Homeless in Echo Park Asking to Stay If They Keep it Clean

CNS News
January 24, 2020 - 12:58 pm
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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Homeless people are asking Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell to find a way to let them stay at Echo Park Lake overnight as long as they promise to keep the park clean and not be a nuisance to visitors.

Homeless people and advocacy groups confronted park rangers and crews during a cleanup today at Echo Park Lake in an area where people without permanent shelter have taken up residency, videos on social media showed.

"We did not end up unhoused by choice, nor do we desire to stay on the streets forever," the letter stated. "At this point, there is no viable option for shelter within or near (Council District) 13 for all of us. Many of us have tried to enter the shelter system elsewhere and do not feel safe or comfortable returning to those places."

The letter continued to say that many of them have federal housing vouchers and have had to wait for housing for two or three years.

"But what we need and what we desire is to create a solution within this city council district, our home."

On Tuesday, O'Farrell, who represents the council district where the park is located, introduced a motion that would dedicate more than $560,000 to fund six months of "emergency measures" regarding hygiene needs of the homeless at Echo Park Lake.

"All city parks must be kept clean, safe and accessible for people of all ages and income levels," O'Farrell said. "People who are experiencing homelessness at Echo Park Lake will continue to be offered services while we work on securing temporary indoor shelter and ultimately, permanent housing."

On social media, various videos showed homeless people angry at cleanup crews as they began to do work on the park.

The Recreation and Parks Department is the lead on cleanups, but officials could not be immediately reached for comment regarding the activity at Echo Park Lake.

"The immediate needs of unhoused Angelenos are felt acutely citywide, and recently this is particularly true for Echo Park Lake," O'Farrell said in his motion. "While services and resources are in various stages of production, we need to address those needs most critical/or 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."

The letter was sent to O'Farrell on Thursday prior to the 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count took place at the park later that night.

The count has been taking place this week across the county to tally the number of homeless, which is essential to understanding how large the homeless crisis has become, and is required to be conducted by Continuum of Care providers to receive federal funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, O'Farrell's Council District 13, which includes Echo Park, portions of Hollywood and Silver Lake, had more than 2,400 unsheltered homeless people in 2019.