ECHO PARK (CBSLA) — Workers Friday were carefully dismantling tents and packing away the belongings of those who once called Echo Park home.
“It’s an awful, complex problem,” one resident of the neighborhood said. “But nobody has a longterm solution.”READ MORE: DMV Investigating Luxury Car Dealership In Upland
Neighbors and homeless activists were conflicted about the removal of the encampment from the public space — a move that prompted nightly protests and ended with more than 180 arrests as social workers encouraged the unhoused to leave.
“This is the largest housing transition of an encampment ever in the city’s history,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
And city leaders were calling the controversial effort a success.
“I’m gratified we’ve housed nearly 200 people since January,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, whose district includes the park, said.
According to O’Farrell, the park is in need of more than $500,000 worth of repairs after being used as an encampment for months.
“It’s one of the crown jewels of the Los Angeles Park System, and we’re gonna return it to that standard,” he said.READ MORE: Latinas More Likely To Leave Workforce During Pandemic, UCLA Report Shows
O’Farrell said community organizations originally set out to get about 60 individuals living in the park sheltered, but as word spread that housing was being offered, more unhoused residents came to the park.
As of Friday, about 200 individuals who had been living on the streets were sheltered.
“Some stability that they haven’t had in a very safe environment with doors that lock behind them,” O’Farrell said.
The majority of those displaced by the closure were brought to the L.A. Grand Hotel.
“All these folks are now in a safe, nurturing environment in a four-star hotel with food service, medical services, case services,” O’Farrell said.
According to the city, the items left behind in the park were being tagged and stored. Those who chose assistance will be housed for six months, and will hopefully be able to get the tools and help needed to move into more permanent housing.
“I think we need to house people who are homeless and be able to return safe, secure, public spaces to Los Angeles,” Garcetti said. “And it’s not an either or. This operation shows you can do both.”MORE NEWS: Cal ISO Issues Flex Alert For Thursday
Workers said the gathering and storing of belongings left behind in the park will take a couple of days, with the larger cleanup and repair work expected to be completed this summer.