The latest in L.A.’s efforts towards reducing homelessness.
On Monday, a known Veteran homeless encampment in Brentwood was taken down and the residents moved to transitional housing. According to NBC, around 50 homeless veterans were living there at the time of the clearing.
The encampment, which was along San Vicente Blvd., took nearly two months to be cleared, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Department aided in the effort, which was originally coordinated by the L.A. County Public Works Department and various other homeless outreach groups.
According to Daily News, the encampment was located outside the Veteran Administration facility in that area, and the displaced veterans were either moved inside the facility or to transitional housing nearby. This recent step to combat homelessness, specifically Veteran homelessness, came after U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough’s recent tour of the encampment. He said last month that he would find temporary housing for the homeless in that area, and hundreds more, by the end of the year.
There were mixed reactions to the demolition of the encampment. Many homeless residents of the encampment were grateful for the chance to move into a more safe, stable living environment, even if it was still temporary. Others did not want to make the move. “You can only have two bags of belongings. If they make me move, they are pretty much going to throw away all of my things,” said one homeless army veteran in an interview with Daily News.
The homeless crisis has continued to worsen over the course of the pandemic. Alongside the clearing of this homeless encampment, L.A. County has implemented other measures to work to solve the issue.
This past Tuesday, $2 million was approved to come out of the Los Angeles’ homeless services fund towards printing and installing signs. The signs are being used to enforce a new law that went into effect in September which prohibits people from sleeping and camping on sidewalks and parks in certain areas in order to not obstruct the public right of way. The signs will be used to mark and notify people of those areas.
As of Oct. 6, 116 locations had submitted requests for the enforcement and signs — 79 of which were approved Tuesday. According to the city administrative officer and chief legislative analyst, about 20 signs and five replacements would be needed for each area.
The city council was not unanimous in passing these approvals. Councilman Mike Bonin and Councilwoman Nithya Raman were the two dissenting votes in the issue. According to NBC, Bonin said when addressing the council, “I’m wondering how many temporary housing vouchers, motel vouchers, $1 million or $2 million could get you so that people can have a safe place to stay while they’re waiting for an emergency housing voucher to find a place to live.”
A particular part of the law prohibits sitting, sleeping, camping or blocking the public ways within 500 feet of what it is calling “sensitive” facilities which would include day care facilities, schools, libraries and parks.
Along with these resolutions, on the 14 of September the council also put into place what they are calling a street engagement strategy. These outreach teams would be assigned to different areas of the city to assess each encampment and work with the cities, counties and non-profits to learn how long it would take to relocate the entirety of the encampment, according to NBC. They are also meant to be the connection for encampment residents to get the services and interim and permanent housing that they may need.
Homelessness continues to grow as the total in L.A. County climbs to nearly 66,000 individuals. Every level of government is officially engaged in combating homelessness.