By Bill Hendrickson
The large makeshift shelter on the northeast sidewalk of the W. Broadway homeless encampment in Eagle Rock has been removed.
It was carted away on Thursday by city workers. The shelter was unoccupied and in shambles, its damaged contents strewn about, according to homeless advocates. As of Wednesday, Sept. 1, the cleaned up portion of the sidewalk was was still clear of tents or other forms of homeless shelter.
Further down the sidewalk from the former makeshift shelter, an occupied tent remains as do tents on W. Broadway’s south sidewalk.
Removing the broken-down, vacant shelter is a step toward cleaner sidewalks. The removal of this particular shelter is also a step toward greater safety because it has been a magnet for trouble.
Councilmember Kevin de León (CD 14) was at the encampment filming an Instagram video as city workers removed the makeshift shelter. In the video, De León announces he is at the encampment and says, “By today, this place is going to be spotless.” The video gives the impression that the entire encampment is being cleared, though the cleaning was targeted on the vacant shelter on the encampment’s northeast sidewalk. De León’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the discrepancy.
Going forward, when and how to clear homeless encampments will remain a matter of hot debate in the L.A. City Council and in the race to be L.A.’s next mayor.
De León, who is widely assumed to be planning a run for mayor, and Councilmember Ridley-Thomas, (CD 10), who chairs the Homelessness and Poverty committee on the City Council, have emphasized housing and social services for the homeless over encampment bans and sweeps, an approach that is also favored by experts on homelessness and advocates for the homeless. Councilmember and mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino (CD 15), wants a more aggressive policy, an approach that appears to be favored by some campaign donors, as was explored in a recent article by Natalie Shure in the left-leaning New Republic magazine and broached in this article in the L.A. Times.
Unknown at this point is which approach will prove to be more popular with voters.
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