I Am Los Angeles is a video portrait series created by journalist and filmmaker Joris Debeij, showcasing the unique people and their ideas that make L.A. what it is. KCET Departures will be featuring these videos as part of our continuing coverage of the shifting cultures of Los Angeles.
Paul Mitchel grew up in Seattle, Washington, in what he calls a fairy-tale neighborhood. By this he says he means the kind of place where kids play in the open streets, the landscape is green, and everyone seems generally happy, being that they're supported by a sense of family and community.
As an adult, Paul started construction work and did well enough to support himself, enabling him to live a good life. Then suddenly a very dark chapter began for Paul, and disrupted the harmony that existed in his life up until that point. Paul had trouble managing through the challenges of daily life, and things began to unravel. He soon found himself incapable of holding reliable work. Sometime later, he ended up on the streets.
Paul made his way to Southern California to live where the climate is more merciful for living in the streets, and where he believed there may be hope to begin again. Here in L.A., Paul's dark chapter continued for years with a few ups and a lot of downs.
Fortunately, Paul found the support he needed and a safe place to stay with the Skid Row Housing Trust. Skid Row, an area of about 50 square blocks just east of downtown L.A., has a longstanding history as a residential neighborhood occupied by those with the least. Through the federal Shelter Plus Care program, Paul and other homeless persons with disabilities (and their families) are provided with safe housing and supportive services on a long-term basis.
This support and assistance has afforded Paul a chance to start a new chapter in his life. Paul, who was "on his way back" when he shared his heartfelt and inspirational story with I Am Los Angeles, recently got his drivers license back again and is enthusiastic about going back to start a new life.
To learn more about the Skid Row Housing Trust, go to their website.
Originally published on I Am Los Angeles, 2012.
Check out more video portraits at I Am Los Angeles.