Echo Park Lake homeless encampment

Homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake.

Echo Park -- Anyone who has visited Echo Park Lake in recent months has become aware of a growing homeless encampment, with tents sprouting up under trees and at waters' edge.

Now, Councilman Mitch O'Farrell wants to spend $560,000 on six months of "emergency measures" to address "basic hygiene needs at the lake," according to a City Council motion he introduced this week.

"We need to address those needs most critical for basic quality of life for both the unhoused and the individuals and families who use the park as a daily resource for exercise, recreation, and relaxation," says O'Farrell's motion. "Because of the emergency situation at Echo Park Lake, we must take urgent action to address basic hygiene needs."

The proposal is tentativley scheduled to be reviewed and voted upon by the full City Council on Jan. 28.

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A city-funded hygiene station, where persons can shower and use a restroom, is in operation several blocks away from the park at Alvarado and the 101 Freeway. 

Homeless encampments are nothing new in city parks, with the hills and canyons of nearby Elysian Park dotted with tents and tarps where the homeless seek shelter. But the encampment at the lake is more visible since it's located in a relatively small and heavily used park in the middle of the neighborhood.

O'Farrell made the motion after homeless activists earlier this month gathered at the park to challenge what they said was the upcoming removal of the encampments around the lake. But the city claimed there was no such plan.

Tonight, volunteers are fanning out across Echo Park and other portions of the central Los Angeles as part of the annual homeless count. 

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