In Los Angeles, the Poor People’s Campaign Makes a Powerful Case for Housing as a Human Right
When Silvia Hernandez first immigrated to California over two decades ago, she worked tirelessly to support her family. After holding jobs in sweatshops, factories, and housekeeping, she pursued a cosmetology license and began doing hair professionally. She was well aware that the “place where I was coming from and my skin color” meant she “had to work harder than other people if I wanted to make money.
But when she became sick and was unable to work, the life she’d built fell apart. Following an eviction, she applied for “all the housing programs available” and sought out medical care, but “the system didn’t give me any other choices but to go to Skid Row,” the 50-square-block area of downtown Los Angeles that is home to several thousand unhoused people. There, she heard similar stories from numerous other women–mostly Black and Latina–and realized she “couldn’t stay as a witness anymore without doing something.” Today, Silvia directs her energy toward advocating on behalf of the Skid Row community “to make our struggles visible, to fight for our rights, and to win.