What happened Easter morning in 2009 at The Lamp Lodge in LA’s Skid Row and what does it say about the safety and services for residents there . . .
Read the City Journal’s story on the Truth about Policing and Skid Row for an animated accounting of the murder and reasons behind it. Basically it is as I was told by the residents – a result of letting drug dealers live in and access a building.
It has everything to do with the attitude and beliefs of the agency running the building – or in this case – the landlord – seeing as The Lodge is Permanent Supportive Housing.
When I worked there under the direction of John Best – drug dealing was an evictable offense. Using drugs was not a cause for eviction but it was expected to be done discreetly and with your apartment door closed and without a gaggle of friends joining you. I had some very uncomfortable talks with Razor – the East Coast Crip who had possession of the 600 block of Stanford when I was a Housing Advocate there. Eventually we came to an agreement that he would not be within site of the building and would not sell in the building and in return I would discuss the debts owed to him with the Lamp Lodge residents and build a drug fund into their monthly budgets. Without a drug dealer in residence and without one on site – the usage went down.
I was active in evicting heavy users and dealers such as “Gretchen” – and rescued her turtle who was swimming in a plastic bucket of old Bong Water. My poor turtle was on crack.
The point is – that with Manny, Annie and John working the building – it was a safer place to live where the worst thing that happened to you was Tony from the Roach Coach (until I screamed at him one day and he stopped blocking my car in and parked down the street- hey, I am cranky!) would visit you or I would ask you to sign a Consent for Services form or other annoying bit of Social Worker paperwork.
Creating a safe community and place to live is WORK but it is possible and has been done before without blaming the police or the tenants. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that mentally ill and addicted adults will be targeted by drug dealers. It takes professional management skills to keep a building free of them and LAMP clearly failed.
Casey Horan, the Director of LAMP for the past few years since Mollie Lowry (now of Housing Works) stepped down is now gone and Shannon Murray is the Interim Director. Shannon has been at LAMP a long time and came in under Mollie. I hope she goes Old Skool and brings back accountability, theory and community to LAMP and that this will never be repeated.