When I asked Norman how long he has been homeless, Norman responded he can’t remember but thinks it’s about six years. Norman lives on the sidewalk in Harbor City, a highly diverse neighborhood in the Harbor region of Los Angeles, California. Norman shares about how rats have driven out of his homemade shack. The noise from the cars and trucks driving by is constant. Norman says you get used to it. People adapt to living outside. He went on to say that homelessness has taken him to another layer to understanding a human being can survive no matter what the conditions are as long as there is oxygen and water. No one should have to live like this.
In Harbor City, police and sanitation sweep the area every three weeks. Norman understands cleaning for health reasons, but when LAPD takes all of their belongings, it forces homeless people to start from scratch again. It’s rare to the point of almost never happening that services are provided. Homeless sweeps just confiscate people’s stuff. Norman says they take their tents, their blankets – everything they have – forcing them to start over. Norman adds “if you are going to clean us out, help us.”
The City of Los Angeles has increased street cleaning and sanitation services for homeless encampments over the past three to five years. The City has done so with an emphasis on criminalization, harassment, and removal of people and their belongings, instead of taking a health-based approach to ensuring safe and clean streets for all. In 2019, LA’s budget allocated $30 million to homeless sweeps, which do nothing to end homelessness and are a waste of taxpayer money.
Your voice can help end homelessness. If we do not fix the affordable housing crisis, homelessness will continue to get worse. Click here to tweet, email, call, or Facebook your federal and state legislators to tell them ending homelessness and creating more affordable housing is a priority to you.
Special thanks to Street Watch LA