Women in Downtown Los Angeles Speak Out

50 min. film documentary, © 2005

Directed by Corina Gamma
Produced by Corina Gamma & Gizi Weibel

Over the course of one year, approximately 250,000 people are homeless in the Los Angeles County. An estimated 80’000 people in Los Angeles County are homeless at any given night, between 35% - 45 % are women. Only six city blocks from the financial district of downtown Los Angeles is ‘Skid Row’, an area with a large concentration of missions and shelters, which makes it the largest emergency-service dependent community in the United States. These services keep the homeless in a very isolated area.

The documentary Ties on a Fence: Women in Downtown Los Angeles Speak Out is a compendium of conversations and interviews with women who are currently residing in the downtown Los Angeles Skid Row. The women who participated in this film are either homeless, at the periphery of it, or in a transitional situation. They tell their stories, struggle and their experiences of poverty as they are trying to navigate through the various bureaucracies of government programs. Many of them are trying to overcome personal dilemmas, either resolving past experiences or escaping them altogether. Some of the documented conversations reveal that "homelessness" is more than just a physical situation, but it is also a condition of poverty and becomes a state of mind.

left to right: Sandra, Sofia, Debbie, Lynn, Lenore. (more women are featured in the film)

Somewhere in the Middle
by Carolyn Schaugaard (Poem featured in Ties On A Fence)

Somewhere in the middle, somewhere in the middle
between right and wrong,
somewhere in the middle I came along,
somewhere in the middle I get along,
somewhere in the middle I sing my song.

Other poems featured in the film by:
Angela Harris, Cat Lyons, Fannie Mayfield and Sofia Russell
with photographs by: Jackie Camp


Participating women:
Donna Arnds, Rochelle Botello, Dian Callaway, Tannis Carr, Rebecca Carter, Corrie & Dee, Deborah Evans, Linda Gray,
Angela Harris, Charity Hooks, Debbie Houtchens, Sandra Johnson, Cat Lyons, Elizabeth Manchester, Maria Martinez,
Fannie Mayfield, Julia Miller, Lenore Ramoz, Angel Royal, Sofia Russell, Lynn Quint, Carolyn Schaugaard and Victoria.
Additional filming / editing assistance: Rochelle Botello, Richard Brenin, Carol Gehring, Michelle Gubbay,
Mina Kedar, Lissy Jones, Caroline McColl, Chris Toussaint, Pauline Von Moos.

Special Thanks to:
The Downtown Women's Center (DWC)
who helped facilitate this documentary
and Lisa Watson, Exective Director of the DWC


Click on image above to watch an excerpt of 9 min. 44 sec.


Huntington Library, Pasadena, (2009)
The "Other Venice Film Festival", Venice, CA (2006)
California State University Fullerton, (2006)
Scripps College, Claremont, California (2006
Docufest, Atlanta Underground FIlm Festival, 2006
MiniDV Film Festival, Los Angeles California(2005)
Women's Conference, Scripps College, Claremont, California (2005)
Human Rights Film Festival, Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles, California (2005)
California State University, Long Beach (2005)
Santa Clarita Film Festival, Santa Clarita, California (2005)
Gallery 825, Los Angeles, California (2005)
"Not a Cornfield", Los Angeles, California(2005)
Midnight Bookstore, Santa Monica, California (2004)
Swiss-American Film Festival, New York (2004)
Detroit Docs Film Festival, Detroit, Michigan (2004)
Black Earth Film Festival, Galesburg, Illinois (2004)
Berkeley Film Festival, Berkeley California (2004)


To obtain a DVD or schedule a screening
please contact:



Best Documentary: Black Earth Film Festival, Galesburg, Illinois, 2004
Best Documentary: Santa Clarita Film Festival, Santa Clarita, California 2005

"This is a documentary that cares about the subject manner. Homelessness in America is at epidemic proportions. This doc takes a look at one very specific area: How women deal with homelessness in Downtown Los Angeles. The insanities of Skid Row are examined from the participants who actually live and survive it everyday. The filmmakers do a great job of bringing these stories to life".
- Juror, Dan Green. Black Earth Film Festival, Galesburg, Illinois. (Award for Best Documentary).

Comment after a screening:

David Buss, seems quite young and healthy and wonderfully in charge of the world. David was homeless and on skid row for many years. He came to a screening with his charming wife - they have children. He commented, that we have lost our social conscience and we do not care for each other like we should. Another lady said she was the victim of abuse and claims 1 in 4 women are so. She attributes this to a hierarchical society. Another lady fled Germany as a child with her family. They were homeless and stayed in a refugee camp. They had a community kitchen, bathrooms, schools, and other things. She did not mention it, but they clearly had dignity. According to her, they were much better off than those people in the film about Los Angeles Skid Row. Some people were fairly shocked by the movie and said you never see anything like this in the mainstream media. Several people in the audience had been involved in Habitat projects. They were working on house projects, and spoke of a an other lady who was going to live in one of the houses. She had a child and this was the first home she ever lived in. They were going to give her training in how to live in a home and how to pay her bills.

Further information links about the subject of Homelessness

Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness

Shelter Partnership

Weingart Institute