According to a review from the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles public works crews have cleaned 16,500 homeless encampments since 2015 and removed more than 3,000 tons of trash. The review also showed that the $14 million citywide cleanup effort has not made that much of a difference in the number of encampments across the city’s alleys, sidewalks, and riverbanks. The city has reported an 18 percent increase this year in those living on the streets and, according to the city’s CleanStat program, many of the 365 blocks with encampments that were cleaned by the end of last year might have possibly just re-formed somewhere else. City crews actually cleaned up over 12,000 homeless encampments last year, which was a sevenfold increase since 2015. Public Works Commissioner Heather Repenning stated
Part of the homeless crisis is managing people who are living outdoors, and part of managing that is making sure the basic public health levels are met and that people have outreach done to them so they can know how to access services.
Unfortunately for residents and business owners, legal settlements obtained by homeless advocates prevent city officials from confiscating homeless people’s tents and other personal property, or evicting those who have nowhere else to go. Apparently the homeless problem is so bad, that some business owners wondered if the city’s efforts are even worth it because things go back to the way they were before the cleanup. Joreen Chism, owner of LBI’s Platinum Shears hair salon in North Hills, states
[Work crews] clean up and they come right back. It’s just a never-ending cycle. You’d think they would come and find a place for them, but they don’t. They just tell them to move.
A quarter of homeless encampment cleanups occurred within 500 feet of a freeway. Luckily, city crews have caught up with a backlog last March, and recorded 429 cleanups in a single day with some locations being cleaned repeatedly. Homeless people are given notice 72 hours in advance to inform them of the pending sweep and signs are put up with the notice. With this much effort and money going into cleaning up after the homeless, what is it going to take to fix the homelessness issue?