Fifteen billboards spaced out over the Los Angeles area are spotlighting the issue of homelessness with some wordplay using the famous Hollywood Sign.
The billboards, put up last week, are part of a campaign by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
“Simply swapping out seven letters from the word ‘Hollywood’ and replacing them with six from the word ‘Homeless,’ in the format of the iconic Hollywood Sign, creates an ironic, powerful and visceral new message that cuts to the heart of the crisis here in Los Angeles and is one that many Angelenos will immediately relate to or identify with,” Michael Weinstein, AHF president, said in a prepared statement.
The billboards, which are mostly in Hollywood and include one on Sunset Boulevard and one at Santa Monica and Vine, also feature the web address LAScandal.org, formatted to look like a green Caltrans freeway sign. Visitors to the website can get information on the county's homelessness crisis, what needs to be done and which elected officials can be contacted.
Something certainly needs to be done, AHF officials say. While the results of Measures HHH and H have yet to be fully realized, the 2017 homeless count in L.A. County was nearly 58,000, a staggering 23 percent increase from the previous year. In the city of L.A. alone, the count was above 34,000, an increase of 20 percent from 2016.
Jason Farmer, senior director of creative for AHF, who came up with the billboard idea, told us that he wanted to take something iconic and world-famous, and contrast it with the version of Hollywood that he sees on a daily basis. He noted that the homelessness crisis directly affects AHF's patient population.
“It’s not all glitz and glamour,” Farmer said. “We’re seeing a growing number of homeless people in the area. … The words are so similar that the idea just clicked with me during a meeting. We needed something iconic, and that sign is the most iconic thing we have.”
Public response to the signs has been all positive, he says.
“On social media, where we get direct input from the public, I haven’t seen anything negative,” he said. “A lot of people say, 'Oh yeah, that is a real problem.'”