Colin Farrell on LA: ‘The homelessness here, it’s pretty tough to see’


Colin Farrell raised pulses a few weeks ago when he was photographed running shirtless in Los Angeles. But Wednesday, Colin tugged at our heartstrings when he got choked up about the homeless situation currently overwhelming LA. While speaking with guest host Wanda Sykes on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Colin switched from jovial to sincere to discuss the impact the pandemic has had on society. One terrible outcome is the surge in the unhoused population to which Colin referred. Yahoo Entertainment has his comments.

During what began as an upbeat and fun interview with Colin Farrell on Jimmy Kimmel Live Wednesday, the actor’s mood suddenly changed after he brought up the current homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. It’s a problem that’s not hard to miss, especially in Hollywood, where the show is taped. Farrell was talking about the difficulty of the past year in terms of the pandemic and social unrest with fill-in host Wanda Sykes, before gesturing toward the outside of the building.

“The homelessness here. It’s pretty tough to see,” Farrell said, beginning to tear up. “It’s pretty tough to see. I don’t get it. Am I doing anything about it right now? No. I’d like to think about doing something about it. I don’t understand how so many people can be on the street.”

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said there were 66,436 people in Los Angeles County experiencing homelessness as of January 2020. But that number is expected to rise dramatically in a post-COVID world.

[From Yahoo!]

I feel Colin on this. Obviously, the pandemic is not solely to blame for the unhoused situation. I think it shined a brighter light on it, though. Many Angelenos are waking up to how many of our neighbors are forced to live on the streets. The complexities of the problem are far too vast for me to go into here. One of the few good things about that terribly done Netflix series, The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, is it did explain how systematic LAs homelessness is. I’ve seen an increase in the last two years. Whether that is me being more aware or an actual increase, I don’t know. I do know that there are several homeless encampments near Union Station and none of them were visible during the Oscars. The city vehemently denies moving those populations to other areas, but they’ve lied about moving communities before. I also understand what Colin is saying about not doing anything personally. I donate time, clothing, money. I watch my ballot measures and attend council meetings regarding shelters and housing. But I know I’m not doing enough, not for the numbers we have and certainly not for what’s coming. Yahoo points out that Colin does work with the Homeless World Cup Foundation. Plus he helped a man in Toronto who needed essentials. It’s easy to get angry at rich people shedding tears for less fortunate, but at least he’s talking about it.

Colin’s emotions are on high for a couple of reasons these days. He just completed the Brisbane Marathon in June. More pressing, though, his son Jack, who has Angelman syndrome, turns 18 this year. Colin and Jack’s mother, Kim Bordenave, are filing for a conservatorship of Jack to continue to access his medical records and to make decisions for him. Since Jack is nonverbal, he cannot state who he would want as conservator, so the courts have to decide. The court date is set for Sept 27.



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47 Responses to “Colin Farrell on LA: ‘The homelessness here, it’s pretty tough to see’”

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  1. EnormousCoat says:

    We need more housing. It is incredibly hard to get housing built because local groups oppose development in the cities, which is where we should have density. We have bad land use laws and policies driving the crisis and they’ve created segregated communities, racially and economically. And we’ve lost a lot of housing stock due to divestment. The subsidies to build affordable aren’t enough and we basically only have one program, which is the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Section 8 vouchers are great but landlords don’t have to accept them. Unless we can get more housing built and allow for density in our urban areas, this will only get worse.

    • Aang says:

      As a landlord, I love section 8 vouchers. The rent comes on time every month, the tenants behave because they want to keep their voucher, and they tend to stay long term. It also tends to be single women with children and I prefer not to deal with men if I don’t have to. But I keep my properties in excellent repair so they always pass the section 8 inspections and I don’t try to charge triple market rate like some landlords. Section 8 should be an entitlement like SNAP that kicks in at a certain income level instead of a lottery or wait list, that would go a long way in solving the housing crisis.

      • EnormousCoat says:

        @AANG it is a wonderful program. It works and it helps. So glad you utilize it.

    • GrnieWnie says:

      Yeah I just want to point out that wealthy people are not responsible (certainly not beyond a moral sense) for solving societal problems.

      That is the job of government. Only government has the power to directly affect the lives of many millions of people. It does so by making policy and passing legislation. I think it’s good to clarify where the responsibility to act really lies so we can all identify who is shirking, here.

      But of course, the underlying reason why Americans have such a visible problem with homelessness is because enough Americans are willing to tolerate government that does very little about it. These are the decisions we make as a society.

      • Nina says:

        Absolutely agree Grnie, that’s a government’s job. Some countries even state in their constitutions that a home is basic right, just like freedom of speech. Us volunteering are only helping short term. Homelessness is a systemic issue and responsibility to solve it lies with the government

      • Maria says:

        Wealthy people influence the election of government figures who do not believe in accessible housing and resources. Not only do extremely wealthy people often build their fortunes off a workforce that they willingly withhold benefits and decent pay from, they also contribute to financing campaigns of people who oppose government actions of providing resources and actively participate in making voting more difficult and creating redlining etc.
        Wealthy people have resources to store their funds offshore so it is not properly taxed and to find loopholes in the laws that you say are the most important for helping the situation.
        “The government” in a plutocracy is only so powerful.
        Now, there is a stratum of people with wealth so the ones lowest on the list are probably not responsible for this (and by that I mean people whose net worth is 6 figures but under a million, etc). But there are a number of them (Bezos and Musk come to mind) who absolutely have an effect on this situation.

      • purple prankster says:

        Excuse you, the rich ARE responsible. They don’t pay taxes lhat would help the government provide social services. They use their considerable resources to lobby, bribe and bully the government into cutting said social services. They use their foundations to set the social agenda for entire countries and disseminate propaganda about huge societal problems being a result of personal choices. They have seen these problems as a money minting opportunity like the Kushners and their substandard housing. And all this while receiving funds these same poor people have paid as taxes to further their business interests in form of tax breaks, grants, etc.

        Most of the government is filled with old money scions and heirs and heiresses. The average people lobbying hardly stand a chance as things are. The rich are absolutely to blame!!!

      • Darla says:

        I agree with Maria and Prankster, but I will say when I use the term wealthy/rich in this context, I am not talking about actors. First of all, the supermajority of them are willing to pay higher taxes, and vote that way. Yeah, we are talking about Bezo level, and many of them far less well known than Bezo flying under the radar, but absolutely swinging elections. Yes.

      • Mel says:

        Wealthy people aren’t responsible, but it sure would help a lot if they paid their FAIR SHARE in taxes and if their corporations paid FAIR WAGES to the people working for them. I saw an Amazon commercial yesterday where an employee was grateful that she got a $3.00 raise after THREE years work! Jeff Bezos is spending how many dollars for a vanity trip to the moon and those are the kinds of raises his company gives to people who do the grunt work to make sure his company runs. They aren’t responsible but a lot aren’t helping

      • Concern Fae says:

        Nope. Anyone working on the US housing problem will tell you that the main obstacle to getting America’s growing population housed is lawsuits from wealthy people (or groups of well off people) trying to stop new housing from built in their neighborhood. There will be a lawsuit over changing the character of the neighborhood. If that fails, a new one about pollution impacts. Then parking. Then not enough room at the local school. Even if all of these are frivolous and end up being unsuccessful, they serve to delay a project for so long that the development is no longer profitable (interest costs on the land, salaries for the developer’s staff, new plans drawn up to try to satisfy local groups, their lawyers, etc.) Developers just don’t even try.

        The US system is about local control, which sounds good until you realize that means decisions are made at a level where the local wealthy people will end up being able to have a veto on anything new being built. Schools and zoning being controlled by local authorities just deepens inequality and racial divisions.

        What we need is something like what Germany has. 100% affordable housing. To get a permit to build new housing, you have to show that the apartments are affordable based on the salaries within a commuting distance and the current housing stock. If new housing is needed, the local housing commission will ask for proposals from developers. No idea if this is still the case, my experiences are over a decade old.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Great point, Darla!!!!!
        So many think of celebrities aka “hollywood elites” as the top of the wealthy, but they are just the lower branches of wealth that are most visible to those below. The REAL money is held not by the talent, but by the executives. The heads of insurance companies, media conglomerates, tech, etc.

        It’s kind of funny how no one ever mentions the impact of Google on Venice, and how the campus made property values explode.

      • GrnieWnie says:


        The rich are responsible because they don’t pay taxes?

        The reason they don’t pay taxes is because of the government. That’s my point.

        The rich can lobby because government allows them to. Money is not inherent to politics; it can be effectively regulated away.

        Yes, the spending of great wealth can impact the world.

        Yet the state is unequalled as an actor. It has resources beyond the capacity of a private actor (a military, for example, or the ability to set interest rates). When it makes policy, it affects the lives of many millions of people directly–even overnight. Amazon exists because the government allows it to; these tech companies are one anti-trust lawsuit away from finding themselves in a radically different marketplace. This is what I am saying you should not lose sight of.


        Again, policy exists. There could be a federal policy for homelessness. There could be state regulation to prevent people from suing to stop housing development in the first place. There could simply be better regulation of development in the first place. It is a choice to make housing a local issue just as much as it is to make policing a local issue.

        There are cities in the US that have effectively ended homelessness. There are many countries that do a far better job of dealing with homelessness than the United States. These countries are largely comparable to the US in that they, too, are wealthy and developed. But they have different policies and many would argue that this is because they have different values as a society.

        I have said this many times: the US has the world’s largest GDP and a population of 330 million people or so. There is no reason for any American to live in poverty. The yawning wealth gap in the US — that concentration of wealth at the top and the dire poverty at the bottom — is a choice enabled by government.

    • The Recluse says:

      This capitalism on steroids system we all live under has so much to do with this. If you have no money, no resources, you’re lost. Meanwhile people with wealth buy second homes or invest in houses for the money and not for the common good. I keep reading about corporations and other companies buying up houses as investments, pricing regular people out. It’s disgusting. We need to tax the rich and use that money for the common good: housing, schools, infrastructure, health care. It won’t happen though if people don’t get active and vote for these things and vote the Republicans out.

      • E.B. Mann says:

        “Communist!” — is what I can hear the MAGAts yelling right now. (Apparently there’s no sensible middle ground between the two ideologies in our sadly fractured society.)

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Ultimately, it is a capitalism thing and a mental health/substance issue thing.

        The property value of just the LAND in Los Angeles is insane. In order to house the homeless where they are, it costs something like $50k per person. For example, in the A Bridge Home initiative, they spent $5.4 million dollars to build a facility that only housed 45 people. When you need to house 60,000, you realize how challenging it is. Then when you think about Venice, where many homeless are, it would be even more expensive because they have some of the highest property values. The other option is to create centers where it would be less expensive, but then it becomes NIMBY, and shipping homeless to poor areas is morally questionable as well.

        The other big issue is that the homeless are not a monolith. Some are temporarily homeless, dealing with financial setbacks. These are the people who housing will help the most. You also have those with medical issues (substance abuse or mental illness). This is a waaaaay more complicated problem, because they don’t just need housing.

        Going back to the Britney Spears conversations, many people were saying if she wants to make mistakes and spend all her money, her family should let her. Let’s apply that generally. What if a person has a mental illness, they do not want to take medication, and prefer to live a life free from restraints out in the fresh air. Does the government get to tell them they must be housed, as to be unhoused is a burden on the community? Does the government get to tell them they must take medication?

        I don’t know the answer. I have incredible sympathy for those in need, and I also have been attacked by an unhoused person during the past year. I see their need, and I also see the dangers that some of them can pose to the communities.

      • ha says:

        I gave my teen a breakdown on rents, owning what type of home & possible wages.
        His answer?
        “It’s scary to be an adult. How can anything work out?”

  2. letitbe says:

    What a sad story about his son. I hope the court case works well for them all. He obviously has a lot on his plate.

    I know what Collin means about the homeless though. I see the encampments in DC and it breaks my heart, and you just wonder how this happened to so many. DC supposedly pays for housing in hotels and it is still so many people. It feels like there should be some easy way for people to just do a little and it would amount to a lot. It just doesn’t exist, and not sure what a good answer is. I’m glad he bought it up.

  3. Lily P says:

    Our government (UK) treats homeless people with such contempt. They managed to provide them with safe accommodation with ease during the start of the pandemic and then they’ve just turfed people back out onto the streets. If they wanted to fix housing insecurity and actually care for vulnerable people they could.

    • SarahCS says:

      Our government is singing and dancing on their own privilege. If you’re not rich then that’s YOUR fault. ‘Levelling up’ my ar$£ (not that they can actually tell anyone what that means). But sure, cut the universal credit uplift that so many are pointing out is keeping so many families just on the right side of absolute poverty while you lobby in favour of your mates.

      Sorry, this makes me genuinely angry.

  4. Ines says:

    On a different note… what was wrong with the Cecil documentary? I loved it!

    • Noki says:

      I also enjoyed it but maybe because i am a sucker for true crime docs. The hotel manager seemed very weird to me something was off about her.

    • MissMarirose says:

      IMO, it gave too much time and energy to those weird internet conspiracy theorists. It was particularly infuriating once they eventually revealed that they caused real damage to the life of that one rocker guy, who had nothing to do with the death at all.

    • DiegoInSF says:

      I stopped watching when they kept interviewing the “internet sleuths”, I think the Richard Ramirez documentary Netflix did was way better and more compelling.

  5. Pix says:

    I will always be attracted to Colin Farrell. I’m pretty sure he’s the only celebrity I’d consider for an affair. It’s the mix of puppy dog eyes, vulnerability, and general hotness.

    • DeeSea says:

      Pix, saaaaaaaame. He’s also a fantastic actor. “In Bruges” is one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time. No one else could have owned that role like he did.

      • stagaroni says:

        DeeSea, I firmly agree! “In Bruges” is an all around fantastic movie with stellar performances from Farrell, Gleeson, Jordan and Fiennes. It was hard to take your eyes off Farrell; his range in this movie is astonishing.

    • Silvie says:

      He used to work out at the Crossfit in my neighborhood and more than once when I saw him out running, I almost passed out. He’s so hot, you can’t help but do a quadruple-take.

  6. Nina says:

    Homelessness is such a rising issue. I live in Colin’s homeland, Ireland and homelessness here is such a huge issue that it’s one the main talking points in every elections. Epidemic only made things worse. I still haven’t heard about any government that seriously tackled and solved homelessness

  7. SusanRagain says:

    IMO, Pres. Regan starting a downhill slide when he closed so many mental health companies in his budget balancing years.
    I’m not phrasing this very well, but many people who were being helped were simply turned out to fend for themselves and became homeless/could not access the agencies they needed.

    The homeless population is going to continue to increase.
    I was employed for about 3 years at an agency that helped organize services available, and in my area in Minnesota, funding from the Govt. is down, folks lose hope and the cycle continues.
    We have a lot of empty buildings that could easily be converted to small apartments if $$ was available, IMO.

    For me personally, I hit a wall of burn out. I had to leave the agency. The day to day Admin BS and roadblocks from the local city Govt just overwhelmed me.

    • SarahCS says:

      My mother worked as an occupational therapy assistant for a while here in the UK in the 90′s until the facility was closed and sold off to be turned into private houses and flats. All the patients were housed ‘in the community’ and each time we saw them when we were out and about in town there was visible deterioration. As a teenager I was horrified and it’s really stayed with me.

      It’s systematic and governments look at the short term budgets over the longer term investment which would pay off to everyone’s benefit.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Reagan passed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act in California as governor, before he became president and did it at the Federal level. It was intended to prevent mistreatment and abuse, but community treatment facilities were supposed to be built as a replacement for care, and they never were. That’s the problem with cutting one government expenditure before setting up the new model. A common GOP tactic.

  8. kgeo says:

    The homeless population is not as noticeable here as in LA probably, but I just bought a guy a hotel room for a few nights because I don’t think he knew how to be on the street. He was extremely tired and dehydrated when I found him. I got him a charger and some socks and some cash and gave him the number of a really great organization here that literally drives a van to homeless encampments and gives people whatever they need. It’s one guy just trucking people around to get resources.
    The hotel room was not enough, and the money could have probably been used for something more long term if I’d given it to the Van, but this guy needed a few sheltered nights and that was a quick and easy way to get him that. I don’t know what’s the right thing to do. It’s bad.

    • JennyJenny says:

      Thank you for your kindness.

    • olliesmom says:

      That was so kind of you. Those few nights probably did wonders for him and helped him think clearly again. He didn’t have to worry about the basics like am I going to be attacked, where am I going to get something to eat, where am I going to sleep and where am I going to go to the bathroom for those few days. He got some actual sleep/rest, he had something to eat, clean water to drink and to bathe with and heat/ac.

  9. Piratewench says:

    Is his son nonverbal and also unable to express himself with writing/chosen images/sign launguage etc? That is very tough. I wish them the best with setting him up to thrive as an adult, under the proper care.

    I live near Kensington which is part of Philly (I live in the suburbs but it’s a short drive away) and it is not only heartbreaking, it is unbelievable. It’s like a third world country. People take their last breaths laying in piles of trash. Addicts live like animals and it rips your heart out to see it. The sheer number of people on the streets is shocking. What can be done? The city of Philly has apparently given up on the entire Neighborhood and all the unfortunate people there. I’m not religious but my Irish grandfather taught me “there but for the grace of God go I” and that is accurate no matter what your beliefs. All I can do for now to help is to donate to food banks. There are programs that try to reach out and help the people but again the sheer number of homeless is astounding. For every one person that private programs can help, 100 people are left on the street.

  10. Noodle says:

    I live in an Orange County beach community, and the homelessness we see is overwhelming. Our streets are lined with tents and needles. It’s scary to walk at night, and good luck keeping a bike because they get stolen no matter what kind of lock you use. The lynchpin in many of our homeless communities is the drug use. We have shelters that are under filled every night; our city is trying to get people off the streets. The difficulty is rampant drug use that prevents the person from making use of the shelter (which doesn’t allow alcohol or drugs). It was explained to me (and I don’t know the veracity of this explanation) that under Obamacare, people could opt for drug rehab anywhere, so we had a lot of people come here. They graduate from rehab and go to sober living, where they meet and often the drug use begins again. They drop out of sober living snd then just stay, never going back to the communities from which they came. In our community, you cannot separate homelessness from the drug abuse and subsequent mental health issues.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I have also heard that many shelters are chronically under-occupied, and many are at risk of losing funding as a result. Many homeless people don’t want to stay at a shelter for a variety of reasons. Some don’t like rules about how late you can arrive, drug use, pets, etc. Some don’t feel safe. Sometimes they don’t have enough staff to keep the facilities clean and free from bedbugs, fleas, etc.

  11. JEM says:

    Just two or three years ago the LA homeless population was 55,000. That’s a big jump, so you’re definitely seeing more people unhoused, Hecate. Unhoused people are in every almost neighborhood here – there are encampments on so many streets and underpasses, along with tons of trash. It’s so sad and so unsafe and it feels extremely overwhelming. It is the government’s responsibility, and a lot of it is that there are so many complicated bureaucratic issues that need to be simplified so that people can just get into supportive housing. The number of families who live in motels or their cars is outrageous. It doesn’t help that so much is privately owned so that instead of building housing, we get another damn Whole Foods. How many Whole Foods does Sherman Oaks need??

    • Noodle says:

      @jem, I see so many more people living in cars than ever before. Our street is a few blocks from a major thoroughfare, and I see the same cars lined up every weekend. For the most part they are quiet, and pick up their trash and don’t bother anyone. I think many of them work and just can’t afford the rent/housing. It is one thing to see the vans and campers, but another to see small cars with entire families living in them. Those are the people I am most focused on helping. Partially because they are my “neighbors”, but also because they are trying so hard to lift themselves out.

  12. Bella says:

    The homelessness ere in SF is an epidemic and like someone above posted has more to do with drug use and the fact that they closed the mental hospitals when Reagan was President. We need to change the laws and re-open the hospitals for people who have mental issues as most of the homeless here use the money to buy drugs, and crime here is absolutely scary. I am trying to help one lady who is homeless but it an absolute bureaucratic mess to get here on a list for a home. It is heartbreaking to see.

    • alexc says:

      Yes, SF is surreal especially considering the insane, concentrated wealth we’re surrounded by. Late stage capitalism in all of its destructive glory.

  13. Nicole says:

    It would also help if red states didn’t send their homeless here.

  14. lunchcoma says:

    We need more housing, and we need to be willing to provide housing to people who haven’t stopped using drugs and who don’t necessarily have all of their mental health symptoms under control. Both of these problems are complex and require long periods of time for people to address, and it can be difficult even if you have every privilege. And somehow we expect people who have to spend all their time thinking about where to sleep tonight to be able to do this to qualify for that place to sleep?

    We need more housing, period, and we need more minimalist housing that provides the basics and doesn’t ask much from residents. There are a lot of reasons for the increase in homelessness, but one of them is that we have mostly phased out the inexpensive hotels that rent rooms and efficiency apartments by the month or week.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I definitely agree that we need more housing and that we can’t have too high of restrictions for those that use it. We shouldn’t be trying to enforce morality in order to get people housed.

      At the same time, those without housing, especially women, can be vulnerable to violence and sexual violence from other homeless people. If people are mentally unwell and/or under the influence of hard drugs at the shelter, I can see why women would not go to such a shelter for fear of being attacked. It’s such a complicated issue.

  15. Rocķy says:

    Our local and provincial government have made areal effort to eliminate homelessness in our city over the pandemic. It has not been easy. A lot of the general public are against each step. And I don’t know that some people are capable of living independently.

  16. MissMe says:

    He was probably emotional about it too as many that are homeless have disabilities. Since his son is now an adult the safety net parents can provide becomes precarious. As a member of my family is also disabled And an adult I can see clearly how easily they would be homeless if not for a concerted effort by our entire family to keep them housed and cared for in every way. The struggles of the disabled are real and heart breaking.

  17. Silvie says:

    I live 2 blocks away from Colin. First, he is an absolute gentleman and dreamboat in person. And second, in our neighborhood, mental illness is the #1 reason for our rampant homelessness. This problem has more to do with lack of resources in the city of Los Angeles to address the severely mentally ill than it has to do with housing. It’s not realistic to give many of these people low-cost apartments when they suffer from extreme dementia and in some cases schizophrenia, which is often the reason why there are drug and alcohol issues in the situation, too. Arson is a serious problem in our neighborhood as well because in recent years the transient population that has moved up here (from DTLA, as the city has started clearing out Skid Row) has taken to starting trash fires, property fires and park fires. This is not so much a matter of people being down on their luck, losing their jobs and apartments (although our city’s pet rescue groups are overwhelmed because of that situation). LA desperately needs a highly-skilled and well-resourced task force to deal with mentally ill individuals who do not want help. I hope I don’t sound heartless; I have two homeless friends in this neighborhood for whom I am desperately trying to seek help (both mentally ill but wonderful people who deserve better lives) and it is an absolute nightmare in LA. There’s no one to call except a handful of social workers whose hands are tied by state laws.