No Home, No Help, No Hope

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No Home, No Help, No Hope

Noah Garcia, Editor-in-Chief

The Disparaging voices of Whittier’s Homelessness

An encampment on the whittier green belt.

It’s midday and the sun is bright and the wind is flowing- acutely accompanied by the drone of the traffic building up along whittier boulevard. You stop at the light between Mar vista St. and Whittier Boulevard, where a homelessness encampment resides parallel to you. Shopping carts, umbrellas, tents and blankets are the prime constructs of this public residence, one which stays the same size no matter how close or far you are to it. Turning onto Mar Vista, going through the uptown area, the displaced individuals claim the sidewalks as their residence, for at least a little while.

That moment in time is now gone, as the residents of the Whittier Greenbelt have been cleared out by a combination of  law enforcement, social services and Caltrans , April 22, 2019. With the 38 tent community disassembled, many of the residents have been sent off, either on their own accord or to accept Whittier Area First Day two month hotel vouchers.It’s been weeks since the clean out and Whittier has already begun plans to make sure such an encampment would never form again.

Council members Henry Bouchot and Cathy Warner, officials in the committee to tasked with overseeing the city’s homelessness action plan. Bouchot spoke to El Paisano on the current Homeless situation in the city.

“ One of the things i’ve noticed is that the public and the government and the service have a different time table than those who serve the homeless. They recognize that you have meet people where they are, to take time and create trust, and you have to find creative ways to get them homes…”

A homeless individual who has settled down on Mar Vista and Greenleaf, Against Garcia’s Fresh Meat Market.

While the idea of homelessness is cut and dry( without a home), the reason for said issue is whildy complex ,stemming from economical and personal issues. Solving the problem is even more complex, as so many sides that all strive for the same goal have different understandings and expectations than each other. Boucht Spoke on how some people think it’s easy to just take an unsheltered individual to a shelter and that’ll solve the issue, but this perception is shortsighted.

“ some people have 32 traffic tickets, no drivers license, they got lice, untreated mental health issues, substance abuse, trauma – if your a victim of sexual assault, I met a woman out in the encampment, she was the victim of rape- do you think she wants to live in a communal environment ? She tried once and started having nightmares ; so she went back to the streets. “

The clearing of the Whittier greenbelt was precursed by the April 11th clearing of parnell park, where another encampment was cleaned up due to community events and public safety. While homelessness has always been an issue, it has been harder for law enforcement to clear out areas due to a court decision last September. The case from Boise, Idaho had declared that a said that activities such as sleeping, are basic human rights of which stopping said individual from doing so would be cruel and unusual punishment.

Whittier California, as stated by the the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority, accounted for 204 homeless individuals in the year of 2018. 73 of these peoples being unsheltered, with the remaining 23 residing in emergency shelters. While there has been a 20 percent decrease of the accounted population since 2016, the site does not record unsheltered youths ( 18-24) and is a statistical estimation based on a comprehensive census.

These Finding helped to form the “City of Whittier Homeless Plan 2018-2021” , a plan adopted in July 2018 to decrease and eventually eliminate the amount of people designated as such. While the formal decision and plans have not been released to the public, the proposed plan can be found on the cities website. Whittier City council meets every second and fourth Tuesday of every month, in City Hall. You can Contact the City Clerk Department for additional information.

While this issue is still being hotly debated, it’s undeniable that it’s one that shall affect the lives of these downtrodden peoples, as well as the city itself. (This article was physically printed issue 9)

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