Behind the glamour and fame that surrounds Hollywood, there is a
growing population of homeless youth never discussed in the tabloids or
recognized at the Oscars ceremony. The homeless youth population in
Hollywood exposes the institutional racism and homophobia of U.S.
capitalism.

Poor and working-class families continue to lose their jobs and homes
at disastrous rates. It is reported that by the end of this year, close
to 1 million families will have their houses seized by the banks.

In
the Los Angeles area, the story is the same. The increasing number of
unemployed people and their families struggle to pay for food and
housing, leaving many in the streets, youth in particular.

A
report by the Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership estimated that 1.3 to
2.1 million youth experience homelessness each year in the United
States. Hollywood has become a hub for homeless youth both from the Los
Angeles area and outside. The study in particular reveals how
homelessness more drastically affects oppressed sectors in society.

Although
they only make up 9.3 percent of the Los Angeles County population,
African Americans make up a shocking 42 percent of the homeless youth
population in Hollywood. The same report also found that Latinos made up
24 percent of homeless youth. In addition, a striking 40 percent were
LGBT youth.

Institutionalized racism and homophobia are
responsible for these disproportionate statistics. The statistics in
Hollywood on youth homelessness mirrors the overall homeless population
in the Los Angeles area. The number of growing homeless youth is a
byproduct of the exploitative and oppressive capitalist system.

This
is the reality millions of people face every day. A local ABC report
stated,  Los Angeles “is believed to harbor the country’s largest
homeless population—estimated at around 50,000.”

It is a crime
for even one person to be homeless. While millions of people go homeless
each year, millions of condos and vacant units stay empty because they
cannot be sold for a profit.

The real root of the social problem
of homelessness lies in the capitalist system. It is an economic and
social system that produces for profits alone, not to meet people’s
needs. Under capitalism, housing is a commodity provided only to those
who can pay for it, no matter how astronomical and irrational the price
or the condition of that housing.

Alternatively, socialists
consider housing to be a basic human need and right. Everyone has an
absolute right to adequate housing. This is a reality in socialist Cuba,
where no one is without a roof over their heads.

Socialist
Cuba, despite its limited resources, is able to provide free or
affordable housing for all its citizens. With the use of central
economic planning, houses are built not to be sold at a profit but to
meet the housing needs of the population.

Homelessness could be
eradicated immediately in the United States under socialism due to the
surplus of homes that flooded the market in the latest economic crisis.
But until the brutal system of capitalist exploitation is done away
with, we must continue to expose the parasitic character of the
capitalists and build a fighting movement for housing.