They were beaten, shot, stabbed, raped, pelted with paintballs, and set on fire. Last year, 22 homeless men and women were attacked – 10 of them killed – in 10 California cities, says a new study quoted by the Sacramento Bee. The National Coalition for the Homeless ranks Florida and California as the sites the most violent attacks on the homeless.
“There’s just absolutely no place in California you can go without coming upon a visible homeless population, unless you’re in the parks,” said Michael Stoops, director of the homeless advocates’ coalition. As more people land on the streets in the economic downtown, they also find themselves more open to exploitation and attacks, he said. While the number of violent acts against homeless people dropped nationwide from 160 in 2007 to 106 last year, the “attacks are getting more serious, with more bodily harm,” Stoops said. Last year’s 27 deaths nationwide were the highest since 2001. “People think they can hurt a homeless person because no one will care, and they won’t fight back,” he said.