This video is personal. Through USC’s Street Medicine team, we met Monica, who lost both of her legs three months ago. You can watch her video here. While trying to connect with Monica, we learned from one of her friends that sanitation workers would sweep the area the next day.
We showed up with cameras to highlight the horrible realities of Los Angeles’ homeless sweeps. Most of the RVs left late at night. Many are not registered or may not have working lights, so they relocate to another location when there is less chance of being pulled over by police.
By the time we arrived, the remaining people were panicking, doing what they could to save what little belongings they had left.
“Where do they expect us to go,” Lincoln Heights Resident Alexis asked. Enforcers don’t offer an alternative, she continued; they just move you and say you can’t come back. If you don’t move, they will impound your stuff. These are empty streets; we aren’t bothering anyone.
LAHSA workers were onsite, monitoring and offering services in the form of a number to call. That’s it – services are not being offered. Why? Because there are not enough services and not enough housing for people. People are just being forced to move somewhere else.
Across America, streets are lined with RVs, many broken down. When people lose their job and face eviction, they may have some savings to go into a hotel for a while. When things don’t get better, they buy an RV because the alternative is street homelessness. Shelters aren’t an option. They are horrible, and they do not end homelessness. Even if they did, there is not enough shelter to help all the people experiencing homelessness.
Things are getting worse. Homelessness is increasing across the country as the criminalization of homelessness grows exponentially. Politicians are putting more effort into getting people out of sight than working to solve the homeless crisis.
This sweep alone saw over 14 sanitation workers, not including the truck drivers, three police officers, parking enforcement officials, and a few LAHSA employees monitoring.
Add all that workforce up – you, as a taxpayer, pay massive money for this. You want homeless people out of sight. So do we; we want them housed. Sweeps and criminalization do nothing to solve homelessness – except costing taxpayers $70 million/year in Los Angeles alone. Stop the cycle, stop the insanity, stop criminalization and sweeps.
The kicker? Sweeps are an endless cycle of futility and wasted taxpayer money. Homeless people move what belongings they can out of the way for sweeps. The sanitation workers then throw everything away. When they are gone, homeless people move their stuff back until sweeps return two weeks later.
If you live in Los Angeles, here is a link for the City Council contact information broken down by district. Please reach out to your legislators to demand they stop the sweeps.
Nationally, please support Housing Not Handcuffs