Homeless Street Services in L.A. Stall as Encampments Continue to Grow

Lee Brown locks up his encampment in Elysian Park as his friend Billy Nelson heads to his encampment in November, 2017. (Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Lee Brown locks up his encampment in Elysian Park as his friend Billy Nelson heads to his encampment in November, 2017. (Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

High above the Metro Gold Line tracks, a string of lean-tos that Lee Brown calls his “three-bedroom condominium” is tethered to a hilltop fence in Elysian Park.

The four-man, two-dog tent city — one of several camps in the 600-acre park north of downtown Los Angeles — has remained intact for at least two years, passed from one homeless person to the next, Brown said.

Last year, Los Angeles put money behind various efforts to curb encampments like Brown’s until the city’s ambitious housing construction program takes hold.

Funding for one strategy — camp cleanups or sweeps — expanded to $13 million. But spending on services for people living in the streets — mobile showers, housing navigation centers, storage facilities and homeless parking lots — lagged behind.

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