‘Where Are We Going to Go’: Story of Echo Park Lake’s Homeless Community

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This is the eighth mini-documentary of our Invisible Stories series on homelessness. CLICK HERE to watch.

The concept of community and love doesn’t die when you’re houseless. It’s not an economic thing. People still need love that comes from community.

The unhoused community at Echo Park Lake embraces this concept, and accepts all walks of life. They take care of people new to homelessness, give them food and support. They remind people they are not less than; nothing has changed because of their economic situation.

This Los Angeles tent encampment has organized, raising money from recycling and donations to hire homeless community members to manage the area they live in – picking up trash, monitoring the food pantry, and other jobs. Residents prepare a daily community meal from donated food. They partner with housed neighbors to care for a community garden. When we were filming, they were erecting a medical tent for residents.

Just like any community, housed or unhoused, the homeless residents help their neighbors!

But more people are entering homelessness. They keep coming and the tent community is growing. Meanwhile, NIMBY (not in my backyard) opposition is growing. As a result, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell attempted to evict Echo Park Lake residents without providing an alternative place for them to live.

200,000 vacant units sit empty in the county – but this isn’t a housing issue. Officials just want the group to move along. Where are they supposed to go?

Los Angeles’s last annual homeless count shows that 66,433 people are homeless – up 12.7% from 2019. However, the annual point-in-time (PIT) homeless count is, at best, a good guess. The numbers are always significantly higher than data shows. Even more concerning is HUD’s PIT count took place in January – before coronavirus hit.

We’re not ending homelessness – it’s growing. There’s not enough affordable housing. People have nowhere to go. But they have a right to dignity. This video shows an officer with his baton raised as other officers place a community member in handcuffs. Why? Because Davon Brown was standing up for his right to live. 


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