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Homeless Encampments Face Cleanup Crews, Rain, and Loss of Property

6:04 AM PST on February 18, 2019

Los Angeles, CA – Feb. 14: Tony Shaw of Koreatown urgently sorts his belongings to prevent sanitation workers from taking his property on February 14, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]hen neighbors or an L.A. City Council office complains about a homeless encampment, city sanitation employees and contractors go out to document the sites and collect property or debris left on public pathways. This often results in homeless individuals losing their shelters and personal property, further demeaning an already marginal group of Angelenos.

On a recent rainy day, L.A. Taco went to Koreatown as sanitation crews visited several encampment sites. I found out that this policy is particularly invasive to a unhoused person who seeks refuge in a shelter for the night. If they have left anything unattended when a worker comes around, it may not be there when they come back.

A woman walks past an encampment in Koreatown during a rainstorm on February 14, 2019. All photos by Brian Feinzimer.
Los Angeles, CA - Feb. 14: A woman walks past an encampment in Koreatown during a rainstorm on February 14, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

During weather events such as rain, policy is to leave makeshift shelters in place, but document and pick up anything around the encampment.

A sanitation worker, who did not want to give his name, told me that he gets a sense of pride in the work he does. He feels he is "making the city a better place for his children" by helping to clean. But the homeless Angelenos I talked to had their own perspective on the cleanups.


Tālib, 63, was born in Boyle Heights and grew up in Watts. He's been staying underneath the 10 freeway on Washington Boulevard for several months.

Tālib showed us how he uses a piece of plywood to keep him and his belongings dry from the rain water draining down the wall and onto the floor from the freeway above.

His spirits were high on this Thursday, saying, “Life is beautiful, it is about love and truth.”


Holly Alexis Albright, said she has lived in Los Angeles for 20 years.

On Thursday, she made sure to observe sanitation workers as they worked in the rain to remove items around her encampment. She didn't want to lose any of her items.


Tony Shaw, 44, was born in Hollywood and was a resident of Koreatown for 36 years. He told L.A. Taco that he worked for the city for 17 years.

He said that he has been living in a tent with his mother for four years due to "an unlawful eviction."

Tony expressed his frustration with sanitation workers taking belongings and for a lack of follow up to his claims with the city regarding his property. But he did tell L.A. Taco that sanitation workers have been more tolerant lately.

Tony also said LAPD doesn’t take the homeless population seriously as citizens, citing multiple police reports he has filed for various issues that have gone unresolved.

RELATED: Another Death on the Streets ~ More than 1,200 Homeless People Died in Los Angeles Since 2017

RELATED: Downtown Development Is Pushing Homeless Encampments and RVs Into Residential Streets of South Central

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