Lan loves to paint and create art. In the 2nd grade, Lan’s teacher asked him to paint a mural. At first, Lan got mad. For a 7-year-old, painting a 10-foot wall looked like a big challenge, but after talking to his parents, Len’s pushed through, and he’s been painting ever since.
I normally don’t upload more than one video interview a week, but tonight is the opening of Lan’s street pop-up art gallery, so I promised him I would post his video ASAP. I rarely share a homeless person’s location, but this is different. You can find Lan’s gallery on Broadway just before Chinatown. He told me he sells prints for $150, so bring plenty of cash.
The city of Los Angeles came and swept the area where Lan has his tent twice this week. He lost most of his belongings including a portfolio of his art. If you are not aware of homeless sweeps, Los Angeles Police Department along with sanitation workers come in and basically sweep the area clean. The cleaning isn’t a bad thing, but they often sweep without posting notices and they displace people and take their belonging without offering support.
Lan seems like a great guy. I love his art. I love how he adds textures to his paintings. I bought Lan a set of new paints and brushes. I offered to buy him a few canvases, but he likes to paint on what he finds. I am also buying Lan a tablet so he can get on the internet. Getting Lan online is the first step to getting him set up to sell his art online. I first discovered Lan from a Street Watch LA post. The Street Watch downtown team is going to try and help Lan set up an account to sell his art online. I am not sure if this will be enough income to get him off the streets, but our hope is it will give him some money for things he needs like a phone.
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There is a direct correlation between what the general public perceives about homelessness and how it affects policy change. Most people blame homelessness on the person experiencing it instead of the increasing shortage of affordable housing, lack of employment, childhood trauma, lack of a living wage, or the countless reasons that put a person at risk. This lack of understanding creates a dangerous cycle of misperception that leads to the inability to effectively address the root causes of homelessness.
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Invisible People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about homelessness through innovative storytelling, news, and advocacy. Since our launch in 2008, Invisible People has become a pioneer and trusted resource for inspiring action and raising awareness in support of advocacy, policy change and thoughtful dialogue around poverty in North America and the United Kingdom.