Northeast L.A. gathers for a Homeless Town Hall

An Arroyo Seco homeless camp that was removed last summer | Martha Benedict


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.”

Related Link:

  • 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.


  1. Nathan, referring to the NELA Alliance as an “activist group” is a bit of a stretch, considering they’re a borderline hate group. But, okay.

  2. LOL, we all know what kind of “journalist” Nathan is.

  3. I disagree with this post, there is a resolution, the homeless are being moved out of a gentrifying neighborhood.

    People don’t want to pay 600k for a house and then to live by trash.

  4. It’s hilarious and pathetic that John Urquiza believes the homeless refusing services were just poor former HLP residents forced from their homes by white invaders. Back in reality, these homeless are the mentally troubled who have migrated (or been dumped) from other areas like skid row. Maybe Urquiza should stick to posting eviction notices on area multi-generational latino-owned small business.

  5. Gentrification does not cause homelessness. Lack of resources does. Homeless services in Northeast region are virtually non-existent. Mental Health services are continuously diminished. Wages and salaries have flatlined, while the cost of living continues to rise. I’ve been in Highland Park for almost two decades and I bought my home for the same reason many do…. Location. Affordability. Local amenities and conveniences. Rather than talk chit and sling fango, I choose to be part of the solution and contribute to efforts to establish resources. Not buying into others’ insecurities, sense of entitlement, and reverse racism.

  6. The bottom line here is that old saying…” You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it” There are plenty of resources out there for the homeless but they don’t care (or want) to use them. Affordable housing won’t get them off the streets because they don’t want that type of responsible lifestyle. I know because a dear relative was homeless for about 5 years and she CHOSE to be homeless and not accept our help and resources provided to her. Thank God she finally woke up and decided to get out of that lifestyle. By providing showers and cleaning facilities for the homeless is only enabling them to continue to remain homeless. Affordable housing is useless because that will mean they will have to be responsible, get a job etc. and they don’t want that type of life.

    • You can’t make assumptions about all homeless people based on your personal experience… everyone has their own story.

      Some people will always need help. But it’s cheaper to provide shelter and resources for people in need, then to ignore them until they end up in the ER or jail.

  7. There are a number of reasons for increasing/chronic homelessness. I agree with a number of posters that wages have flatlined while the cost of living has skyrocketed. L.A. needs to institute a $15 min wage asap.

    But I also think a number of the homeless are shiftless drug-addicts who chose this lifestyle and expect others to support them. Everybody’s a victim in our culture. Free showers and restrooms? Please. These people need to stop literally living in the gutter, get off their lazy behinds and get a job.

    Those found to be mentally ill need to be supported. Those found to be lazy, shiftless and criminally-minded need to be sent packing, their encampments destroyed, their ability to leech off of the rest of us and befoul our communities curtailed.

    Two middle-aged homeless men were hanging out at the end of my street with all of their garbage, filthy and wasted, drinking tall-boys in the middle of the day. Seriously? Fuck that. They need to go the fuck away.

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