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A vast, teeming retirement community called skid row

Earlie King Jr. says he was in his late 20s when he took up residence in a skid row alley downtown. He didn’t intend to grow old there, but that’s what happened. When King finally moved indoors, about three weeks ago, he was 65. Leaving the Los Angeles alley, where he and friends scratched out an existence by unloading shipments to toy district merchants, felt like leaving home.

“Skid row is the largest retirement center in the country,” Wendell Blassingame

Growing old is challenging enough in a safe and pleasant environment. On skid row, the terrain is harsh, a drug market flourishes amid the squalor, and physical and mental distress are on parade. And women have the worst of it, Blassingame said, because of how they’re used and abused.


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