Nearly 4,000 people live on the streets in a 50-square-block area of downtown Los Angeles. Most are black, male, poor, troubled by drugs, drink, and a criminal past – sometimes all three. It has just about the most intractably persistent homeless population in any American city.
Some people can’t get a roof over their heads. Others are shelter resistant. There are those who can’t bear to abide by the rules – curfews, for instance – that come with a bed and a meal.