"How do we normalize this? This isn’t normal to me, this is a woman, this is somebody’s daughter, sister, dead on the street," said Angela Marsden, the owner of Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill.
Marsden is extremely upset because she’s been begging city and county officials for help in dealing with the homelessness crisis in her community.
"We are a third-world country, critical mass in Sherman Oaks. This is supposed to be an exclusive area, of LA. We’ve had three dead bodies, three dead bodies in a week, and we’re still dealing with all the other stuff, the robberies, drug use, the mentally ill wandering around," she said.
Andy Bales, President & CEO of Union Rescue Mission, said what Marsden is experiencing is sadly quite common.
In LA County, an average of five homeless deaths are reported a day.
"Our social workers are overwhelmed, our police are overwhelmed," Bales said.
Marsden believes the number of deaths would be reduced if homeless people with mental illness were forced to get the help they need.
"We need to start committing people whether they like it or not. They don’t need a fancy condo. They need beds with therapists with doctors and tough love, caring love, meaning you’re committed until you get clean, you’re committed until you’re taking your meds and then we transition you into a safe space of housing," Marsden said.
Debbie Smith agrees with Marsden. She is the mother of a young man, named Nicholas, who suffers from mental illness and is currently homeless and missing.
Smith has tried to get conservatorship over her son, but she says LA County has made it almost impossible.
"We need them conserved and they meet the criteria. If they’re lying on the ground, and they can’t find food and shelter, clothing, even one of those, meets the criteria. The only humane thing to do is get them treatment now," Smith said.
"You see a dog in the street, people are willing to risk their life to save that dog and the city puts them in a shelter where they care for them, but human beings are left on the street like this," said Marsden.