Trend: 'Dumping' Homeless on L.A.'s Skid Row

ByABC News via logo

March 24, 2006 — -- It seemed things couldn't get much worse for Marveil Williams. He was selling drugs and living on the streets of Los Angeles' Skid Row.

Then one night he got a beating he won't forget. "I just know I woke up in the hospital," Williams said.

But with no insurance, no family and no home, Williams says the hospital just wanted him out.

"They told me I needed to get out that hospital bed and go find somewhere to stay," he said.

His head and eyes still swollen, Williams was dumped on the doorstep of Skid Row's Union Rescue Mission.

"I was lookin' at him and I was wondering why the hospital would have let him go that way … in that condition," said Gregory Williams, who was also staying at the mission.

Officials say Marveil Williams' story isn't unique. This week, another "dumping" was caught on tape. Carol Ann Reyes, 63, was loaded into a cab by Kaiser Permanente hospital staff and dumped on Skid Row, wearing nothing more than a hospital gown and socks, police said.

"She was very disoriented. She didn't know where she was or what she was doing," said Regina Chambers, who works at the Union Rescue Mission. "All she knew is that she had been to a hospital. She didn't know which one."

Diana Bonta, vice president of public affairs for Kaiser Southern California, told The Associated Press the incident violated hospital policy and would not occur again.

Officials say a number of hospitals, police agencies and jails in the Los Angeles area have been guilty of dumping -- they take the homeless who are seeking treatment or crowding jail cells and release them on the streets of Skid Row.

Police Capt. Andy Smith says there's a reason why Skid Row has been home to the down and out for more than 100 years. There are more services in the area than the 13 Western states combined -- so the homeless keep on coming.

"If you are a person intoxicated in one of the suburbs, chances are you going to get a one-way ticket to that facility right there," Smith said, pointing to the mission.

After Smith witnessed a dumping firsthand, he blew the whistle. Now a political firestorm may lead to changes.

Officials said hospitals that dropped people off against their will could face criminal charges or be sued. A California state senator has introduced a bill that would prohibit any arresting agency from taking people who need drug treatment, mental health services, or shelter outside of their jurisdiction.

For now, Marveil Williams remains in a drug and alcohol treatment program at the Union Rescue Mission. He hopes that by this time next year, Skid Row and homelessness will be just memories.

ABC News correspondent Miguel Marquez reported this story for "Good Morning America."

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