Last Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the removal of a sprawling encampment at Echo Park Lake that resulted in 179 arrests, including members of the media. Nearly 200 homeless people were removed from the site that day and promised long-term housing. But a new report from the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy says most of them never received it.
According to the report, just 17 out of the 183 displaced people received long-term housing. 48 are on waiting lists, 15 went back to the streets, another 15 were unsuccessfully housed, and six died. 82 people are unaccounted for after the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) lost contact.
The report has bolstered the cries of activists who oppose encampment sweeps. Ashley Bennett, an unhoused advocate and co-author of the report, told Knock LA that the cleanup “was not a successful operation to ‘house’ people; it was a blatant use of state power to banish and erase the poor.”
Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who called the 2021 sweep “one of the most successful housing operations” in LA history, has disputed most of the report’s findings.
O’Farrell’s role in the Echo Park Lake events will feature prominently in his bid for re-election this year. It won’t necessarily hurt him. Voters have grown tired of the encampments and largely support cleanup efforts, polls show. They’re also turning on long-term housing. A recent poll conducted by the Los Angeles Business Council Institute in cooperation with The Los Angeles Times found 57% now support short-term shelter over long-term housing for homeless people.