The city of Los Angeles is home to 4.9 million people who identify as women, 14,461 of which are counted as homeless. Yet the majority of them, citing fears of assault, harassment, and rape, go unseen. In fact, According to the most recent Greater Los Angeles’ Homeless Count, 65 percent of homeless women are domestic abuse survivors. In order to survive, many women hide, dress masculine, or seek out well-lit areas to sleep in.
The notion that women are unsafe alone in public has persisted since the late 1800s. Los Angeles experienced a 350 percent population increase from 1880 to 1890, in-between two transformative events in the city’s history—the construction of the Central Pacific Transcontinental Railroad (1870) and the discovery of Los Angeles City Oil Field (1890). According to the 1900 census, there were more single than married women between the ages of 15 and 30. But if they didn’t live at home, where did they sleep?
Although many at the time considered single living a threatto the moral fabric of society, boarding houses began to pop up in the late 19th century, accommodating Los Angeles’ labor boom. The Mary Andrews Clark Memorial Home in Westlake—built in 1913 by copper tycoon William A. Clark and named in memory of his mother—was inaugurated as a YWCA housing complex for young working women. Rent was $5.05 a week and included a furnished room, two free meals a day, and use of shared laundry facilities. Suitors were allowed to visit but only on the weekends and in common areas. Curfew was not to be violated and women were heavily supervised. After being closed in 1987 due to earthquake damage, it reopened in 1995 as low-income housing for single earners, a similar endeavor to its original purpose.
[For more of this story, written by Angella D'Avignon, go to http://www.citylab.com/housing...-los-angeles/505487/]