I first met Callie as she was rummaging through food donations kind local citizens leave on the ground. There is no refrigeration. Homeless people who live in this Harbor City homeless encampment have to grab what they need to survive quickly, or the food spoils.
This is no way for anyone to live, but Callie has been homeless in Los Angeles for eight years since her husband died. After 25 years of marriage, Callie’s husband suddenly passed away from cancer. With her savings wiped out, Callie ended up on the streets with nowhere to go.
Callie says the resources to get out of homelessness are little to none. She adds that it is difficult to find a job. Because of the ongoing police sweeps and constant moving, Callie now has problems with her legs.
On Mother’s Day, Callie wrote to her district councilman Joe Buscaino. She first started to thank him for what he has done and then went on to ask if they could have a sanctioned homeless encampment creating a safe space with bathrooms for them to live. At the time, the community was located across the street. Because the homeless camp was in a flood zone, the city moved them.
And the city keeps moving them. Callie says Harbor City police and sanitation did a homeless sweep the day after Christmas and after Thanksgiving. Imagine you’re trying to make the best of a horrible situation living in a tent when the police come and make you pack up to sweep the area, and that’s your holiday!
Callie doesn’t drink or use drugs. She doesn’t have a mental illness yet. The longer she stays outside, the more at risk Callie is. Callie says she’s never gotten used to living in a tent. She’s been a homeowner. She’s been to college. Homelessness is not her way of life, but she has nowhere else to go.