Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) is a Skid Row-based non-profit arts organization, founded and directed by in 1985 by director-performer-activist John Malpede. It is a first performance group in the US made up principally of homeless people, and the first arts program of any kind for homeless people in Los Angeles. LAPD creates performances and multidisciplinary artworks that connect the experience of people living in poverty to the social forces that shape their lives and communities. LAPD’s works express the realities, hopes, dreams and rights of people who live and work in L.A.’s Skid Row.
LAPD’s activities and projects have used theater and other arts to focus on a constellation of inter-related issues of continuing importance to Skid Row and other low-income communities, including gentrification and community displacement, drug recovery, the war on drugs and drug policy reform, the status of women and children on Skid Row and mass incarceration and the criminalization of poverty.
Based on its continuous, committed work on Skid Row, LAPD created residency projects in communities throughout the US and in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Bolivia, working with drug recovery programs, shelters, policy advocates and arts organizations.