The City of Los Angeles this week resumed cleaning its Care Plus homeless camps after the clean-up was halted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, the city council voted to resume cleanup, which requires the homeless to take down their tents so that the Los Angeles Sanitation Department can clean the streets and remove trash and rubbish from the area, Starting 1st September. Amendments to “increased street engagement strategies” proposed by council members Mike Bonin and Nitya Raman. Those strategies include easy-up tent distribution and exchange, water bottle and sanitary kit exchanges, and voluntary garbage disposal options.
Elena Stern, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, told the Epoch Times that Care Plus cleaning is regularly scheduled by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office in areas that need cleaning most. Extensive cleaning removes tents and dangerous objects and clears roads.
The city typically conducts about 20 sweeps across the city per day. Cleanliness was carried out in nine out of 15 districts of the city this week.
Some Angelenos expressed concern for the homeless people whose shelters and belongings were destroyed by sanitation teams.
“NS [cleanup crew] The police put up tape, and they really just went over it and started destroying everything with very little stuff,” said Peggy Lee Kennedy of Venice Justice and Service Not Sweeps. “They have, I think. For these four blue tabs they stored people’s belongings, but [everyone’s belongings were mixed up]. And a front loader was pushing things and crushing them, and then a crane lifted everything up and dumped it in the garbage truck – full tents and all.
Kennedy said that some people in the camp who had mental health issues did not react well to the destruction of their tents. While some replacement tents were given to those who asked for them, the tents provided by the sanitation team are a “joke”.
“No one wants those lousy tents. No big man is going to take those little tents. They are like tents for small children,” she said.
Other residents welcomed the cleanup, citing health and safety concerns about drug addiction and mental health issues.
Venice Beach resident and community worker Rick Swinger photographs one of the buckets collected by the cleaning crew filled with needles, knives and other sharp objects. Swinger told the Epoch Times that many homeless people in the region were addicted to meth, causing users to suffer multiple minor strokes as well as short-term memory loss, affecting their ability to clean themselves.
“You have a lot of cases where there are people who are so on meth that they’ve had multiple strokes. Their short-term memory is gone, so they can’t even remember the last time they shot [meth] Tha, and they get these needles, and when you are in that situation you throw everything on the ground,” he said.
The Venice Family Clinic, a local medical clinic with an emphasis on harm reduction, provides people with free needles, among other services. Swinger thinks this is a mistake, as it has left many needles in the street that could potentially contaminate the city’s waters and oceans.
“[Venice Family Clinic] Great works out there, don’t get me wrong, but they made a huge mistake with this one,” he said. “They should have a needle exchange – one for one, but instead they are giving it to them. And so we find all these needles in the streets.”
However, Kennedy noted that cleanup is especially difficult for people with major mental health problems, whose tents are often destroyed; She said they are often displaced because shelters such as nearby “A Bridge Home” shelters do not have a solution for them.
“Shelters aren’t great for everyone; it can be a really painful experience. We need a permanent solution… You can’t shelter people expecting them to work, it’s not working… Instead, the city jails the mentally ill, and those who are on the street, we’re criminalizing. That’s something you have to address. Kennedy said, “It’s a major thing that we need to do.” The right thing to do is for people who have major mental health problems and are our homeless.”
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority was not immediately available for comment.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times