You Don’t Want to be on Skid Row

A phrase used more in the U.S. than elsewhere, skid row refers to a run down part of a large city.

We were horrified the first time we saw the skid row in downtown Los Angeles one early morning in the late 1990s – the whole area was in a dilapidated condition and filled with a lot of homeless folks sleeping on the sidewalks, some people seemed to be drunk and a few were definitely mentally ill.

We were too stunned and for a moment doubted whether we were in the United States.

Other big cities in the U.S. like Seattle and Chicago also have their skid rows.

In our view, the increasing numbers of people on skid row in the U.S. reflects the collapse of social safety nets, inadequate shelters for the homeless, closure of government mental hospitals and lack of rehabilitation programs for ex-prisoners.

The phrase skid row is said to have its origins in skid road, a part of the city frequented by loggers.

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