From Echo Park and Silver Lake to Highland Park and Hermon, many residents have complained about how long it can take for the city to clean up a homeless encampment, even when it’s blocking a public sidewalk or encroaching on parkland. After being hit with lawsuits and court orders, the city along with other government agencies needs to follow several steps to compassionately provide clean ups, according to a summary of the process issued by Council District 13.
Here is what needs to happen before a homeless encampment can be cleaned up:
- The encampment is reported to the Bureau of Street Services (BSS) by a constituent or the council office.
- The BSS assigns an investigator to the site, who gives a visual inspection.
- The council office/BSS alerts the L.A. Homeless Services Authority.
- LAHSA conducts outreach and offers services to the individual.
- The owner of property receives a 72-hour Notification of Cleanup to ensure they have enough time to collect their belongings.
- The BSS works with the Department of Sanitation to schedule a cleanup of the waste in the area. Cleaning an encampment requires specialized training, which may require a certified watershed protection worker.
The L.A. Times reports the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) received 60 percent more calls for street encampments in 2014 than in 2013. At a forum last month in Echo Park to address the growing homeless population, a representative from People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), which conducted an annual homeless count and is contracted by Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s office, notes that the region’s homeless population has gone down since the economic downturn in 2007 and 2008. However, he said the official number was about 30,000, but the actual number is most likely higher with people “hidden in cars” and “couch-surfing.”