The plight of homelessness is particularly rampant in the city of Los Angeles. On the Streets plants cameras at the center of this epidemic, speaks to those who struggle to survive without proper housing, and examines the larger issues which contribute to their severely compromised way of life.
Using a detailed map of homeless populations devised by the Los Angeles Times, filmmaker Lisa Biagiotti travels across every corner of the city in search of personal stories.
On Skid Row, she happens upon a college graduate and his pregnant companion. They live in a tent and bathe themselves with jugs of water bought from a nearby store. For them, homelessness is a state of mind. While they await an opportunity that would afford them more ideal living conditions, they seem content in proclaiming the entirety of downtown L.A. as their home.
In the past two years, the number of people living in their cars has doubled. In Venice Beach, one of these vehicle dwellers chalks it up to the unreasonably high costs of big city life. He parks his RV on the side of the road, goes to work, and saves every penny he can. He's confident that one day soon he'll be able to purchase a home or apartment of his own.
Many others struggle to find a silver lining in the stark realities of their daily existence. The film journeys to a series of encampments and shelters where hope is much harder to come by. These Angelinos live under the constant threat of violent crime, premature death, drug addiction, and imprisonment.
The film also spotlights the figures who work tirelessly to offer support and relief to the disenfranchised. A community advocate travels the city delivering blankets to those in need. An 18-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department patrols the streets and greets each homeless citizen he passes by name. He considers it a sacred duty to protect the most vulnerable among them, but this instinct is often at odds with his oath to the community at large.
Harrowing, eye-opening and deeply compassionate, On the Streets offers a profoundly intimate portrait of homeless life in the City of Dreams.