By NATHAN SOLIS
A Homeless Town Hall focused on encampments along the Arroyo Seco covered a wide range of questions and issues, from the need for more affordable housing to concerns about public safety and the cost of encampment clean ups.
The Tuesday night event at Ramona Hall included not only a panel of officials dealing with the problem but homeless individuals as well. One homeless man, John Seeley, a copy editor who lives in an RV in the Echo Park area but has applied to move into an Eagle Rock affordable housing complex, wanted to know if would be possible for the city to install campground facilities with showers and restrooms.
The gathering, sponsored by the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, comes a few weeks after a major clean up of Arroyo Seco homeless encampments near Hermon and Montecito Heights. It was the second such clean up in about about six months.
According to Council District 14 representative Martin Schlageter, the City of Los Angeles has $5 million set aside for cleanups, not including those on Skid Row.
Homeless advocate Rebecca Prine of Recycled Resources said that such large scale cleanups are ineffective, as the homeless are being moved from one corner to the next with no real resolution.
“I can tell you that everyone wants some service, everyone wants a home. No one chooses that lifestyle,” said Prine, who holds a once-a-month outreach to the homeless living along the Arroyo Seco.“We need affordable housing in this area.”
But Council District 1 representative Sylvia Robledo said that most of the Arroyo Seco homeless refuse services that are offered by The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority when they cleanup encampments.
John Urquiza of NELA Alliance, an activist group, said that some of the homeless might refuse services because it would mean leaving the neighborhood, where some had resided before they were forced to live on the streets.
The crime associated with the Arroyo Seco encampments were a concern for a number of residents at the meeting. Edward Carreon of Montecito Heights said he was worried about drugs and crime. In particular people shooting up heroin, stealing from nearby homes, and committing crimes along the river.
“It really does break my heart to see the homeless, but they’re not all good players,” Carreon said. “I’m pissed off about these issues.”
- Arroyo Seco homelessness: Crime concerns, lack of affordable housing highlighted at town hall. KPCC
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Avenue Meander.