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Life On Skid Row Becoming More Dangerous, Dire For Homeless

LOS ANGELES ( — While the economy continues to boom for some, life in Skid Row for LA's homeless is becoming increasingly dangerous and tenuous.

CBS2's Randy Paige reported from Skid Row on Wednesday, where advocates are calling the situation dire.

Paige reported, "Pictures tell the story. The streets are more crowded and more dangerous than ever before."

There was a stark contrast on the same street shot just five years ago; it was busy, but nothing like today.

Longtime advocates, like the people who run the Union Rescue Mission, see the situation getting worse.

Paige spoke to Andy Bales, director of the Union Rescue Mission for more than a decade.

The mission's security cameras captured the fatal shooting of a homeless man by LAPD officers last month.

Bales said he has never seen Skid Row so dangerous or so violent.

"It's the most people, the most tents, the most obstructive sidewalks. It's the worst I've ever seen," Bales said.

Bales said many of the homeless here were dropped off by hospitals when patients were unable to pay their bills.

Some of his surveillance cameras captured just such a patient dumping in 2006. He believes the practice is still continuing.

"Something needs to change," says neighbor Blair Besten. She represents a neighborhood group that produced a no-holds-barred video showing what life is like on Skid Row.

[That graphic 2:30 video, posted on YouTube, can be seen by clicking here.]

Besten said it's not just the homeless coming to Skid Row but the mentally ill, drug addicts and dealers and defenseless woman and children, all being exposed to hepatitis, typhus, lice and scabies.

She calls the area "the perfect storm for the spread of disease."

Besten and Bales are both calling on city leaders to tackle the problem from all directions, as well as calling on other cities to show more compassion to their own homeless populations.

"It's not Skid Row," he says. "It's Death Row."

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