The day the fence arrived, Gabe was sitting next to his tent, right at the heart of Los Angeles’ Skid Row. It was a chain link fence – about six feet tall – placed at the edge of the sidewalk, where it neatly enclosed Gabe, his neighbors, and the tented homes they have made for themselves on the streets of what is sometimes called the homeless capital of the country.
“They put the whole sidewalk inside the fence,” said Gabe, an older black man with kind eyes and a disarming demeanor who has lived on the streets of Skid Row for about five years. He was scaling a fish over a red plastic cooler as he talked. “I felt like we were in prison on the sidewalk. It felt like we were in prison and could get out, but still in prison, you know what I mean?”