LA’s Homeless, Housing

Housing Built By LA’s Homeless Community Receives Mixed Reactions From Neighbors 

Talking about taking matters into your own hands....

Los Angeles’ growing homeless community members have used their creative skills to settle into makeshift homes alongside a busy highway, causing stares and mixed reactions.  

The community, made of materials such as tents and tarps, sits along the Arroyo Seco next to the 110 Freeway and close to Highland Park. One “homeowner” said the location is a safe space. “It’s good because nobody bothers us,” a man who goes by Cesar said. 

“That’s why we’re here.” 

Cesar’s home is one of the most impressive—with a front door and electricity. He has lived there for four years, working part-time,. He said this is the best option for him since he can’t afford housing.

“For my work, I can’t do that and move to another place because the rent is too high,” he said.

According to the New York Post, the number of homes above the “dry river” has increased as 46,000 LA residents experience an increase in homelessness. “They don’t bother me,” a nearby resident said in Spanish.

But another neighbor, while admiring the work done, isn’t so enthusiastic.

“This doesn’t belong here. This is public property,” Mike Ancheta said. “But this is not what it’s supposed to be used for. This is dangerous. As you can see, someone is cooking out there, an open fire. They are stealing electricity. I mean, come on.”  

Connie Flanders, who cares for a horse nearby, called the set-up “scary.”

Residents are calling on city leadership to do something about the homeless crisis. During her State of the City address on April 15, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass called for “the most fortunate Angelenos” to join the city’s new public-private partnership campaign, LA4LA, to speed up the process of affordable housing by acquiring more properties and lowering the cost of capital.

“We have brought the public sector together—and now we must prevail on the humanity and generosity of the private sector,” Bass said.

The area’s representative, Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez, released a statement saying the “outreach teams are working to urgently find housing for the individuals living in this encampment. Our office believes that this status quo is unacceptable and is working to urgently address this crisis, with both short-term and long-term solutions,” Hernandez said.

Los Angeles isn’t the only city where the homeless community is taking housing into their own hands. In Seattle, Steve Irwin, who faced criminal charges for the destruction of Dr. Joze Rizal Park with an excavator in October 2023, built a cabin in February 2024. He said he didn’t see anything wrong with what he was doing and admitted to using heavy machinery to clear trees.