Homeless in California: the Americans forced to camp in the desert – podcast

Of all the 50 US states, California is richest. Its billionaires line the sunny coastlines with lavish condos, Silicon Valley attracts the smartest people from across the world and makes them rich. But behind the incredible wealth is a national disgrace. More than a hundred thousand people are homeless.

As Guardian US reporter Sam Levin tells Hannah Moore, it’s now the number one political issue in the state. To walk around the inner cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles is to witness unhoused people sleeping under bridges and in tents in parks. It’s a situation that has become markedly worse in the pandemic.

At the extreme end of the crisis, there are now encampments of people sleeping rough in the Mojave desert. As Sam explains, in the city of Lancaster, local authorities have forced homeless people to move on beyond the city limits, leaving them with little option but to set up in the harsh conditions of the desert under the summer sun.

Mojave Desert, CA July 06: Aletha Johnston, 68, holds one of her baby Guinea pig outside of her home in the Mojave Desert, on the northern edge of Los Angeles county, miles from the nearest store. While unhoused people make up nearly 1.3% of the Lancaster population, they accounted for 48% of all police stops for minor municipal code violations in 2020, according to the ACLU, which analyzed public arrest records and obtained citation documents from the LA sheriff’s department (LASD). Photo By Barbara Davidson/The Guardian

Photograph: Barbara Davidson/The Guardian

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