One family’s desperate act to escape overcrowded housing in L.A.
On an L.A. morning of blazing sun and humidity, a father and son walked a dirt pathway in a neighborhood outside Santa Monica. The pair had not spoken since arriving nearly two weeks earlier at the home where they were staying with a friend.
For his father, who has a rare form of muscular dystrophy, the journey was a grim one: His journey to get a new apartment.
“I’m a little hesitant because of the stigma that they’ve got because of my disease,” said Robert Lee, 61.
Lee is on his third attempt to find housing in Los Angeles. Despite living in a city with one of the largest homeless populations in the country, the Lee family has been able to live in the same apartment for more than five years.
In 2015, Lee became homeless after a car accident left him with a broken pelvis and he no longer had a driver’s license. He turned to couch surfing, spending his days as a friend’s extra living room boy and his nights in an emergency shelter.
Lee said he tried to stay off drugs and alcohol when he was staying with another friend. But in the months before his father got sick, Lee said he took LSD and became addicted to pain pills.
“The disease has been my Achilles heel. I put myself in very bad situations,” Lee said.
In 2016, Robert Lee began experiencing symptoms of a rare muscular dystrophy. But his condition worsened so quickly it was too late to save his father and was diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Robert Lee said his son was in and out of the hospital. A pulmonologist at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said he couldn’t treat Robert Lee because he didn’t have the right type of pneumonia.
“It was too