A photo showing a woman posing for a picture with a homeless man sleeping at her feet has triggered a debate about homelessness in Los Angeles.
The woman has been sharply criticized on social media sites for her insensitivity, according to Daily Mail.
The picture emerged when the woman posed in front of a mural that reads, “Stand here and think about someone you love.”
Dallas Clayton, the artist who produced the mural, thought the photo of the woman drew attention to a major social problem in the city, where more than 80,000 people are homeless on any given night.
“Homelessness is a systemic issue that very few organizations and governing bodies seem to have a good handle on developing a holistic solution to,” Clayton told Daily Mail.
“It's unfortunate that we live in a world, country, state and city with so many resources and so much potential for progress, yet we still allow people to go without basic needs such as food and shelter,” Clayton added.
The photo was taken by Rich Michalowski, a passerby who uploaded the picture to Facebook.
“I appreciate that this photo is shining a light on the disparity between the haves and the have nots, but honestly if it takes this photograph for you to realize that this disparity exists I don't imagine you've been paying attention to society as a whole for the past fifty or sixty years,” Clayton added.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the homeless rate increased 12 percent during the first two years of current Mayor Eric Garcetti’s term in office.
Last November, Garcetti came under criticism from homeless activists for refusing to call a state of emergency to deal with the deepening crisis as the weather worsened. Although the worst fears of El Nino rains did not materialize, wet weather did result in the death of a 60-year-old homeless woman on a Los Angeles sidewalk in January.
While Clayton welcomed the opportunity to raise the issue of homelessness, the artist was less forgiving towards the woman in the picture.
“I also wish that the woman in this photo had connected more with the intention of the mural itself, which was to offer a moment of pause to reflect on what it means to love someone else, to create empathy and bring us closer together as a people,” Clayton told the Daily Mail.