Massive homeless encampment at Echo Park Lake could be cleared out this week

People experiencing homelessness in Echo Park are holding their ground as recent news has circulated that the city might clear out and shut down the park for repairs.
ECHO PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- People experiencing homelessness in Echo Park are holding their ground as recent news has circulated that the city might clear out and shut down the park for repairs.

Many people are asking if all of the tents and people experiencing homelessness will be forced to clear out this week.

Tony Arranga, the communications director for city Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, stated that the city is closing the park for $500,000 worth of repairs.

And though there's been no official closure date announced, whispers of the closure have circulated this week.

David Busch-Lilly has been homeless for 20 years and lives in the park.

"I've slept on the streets for the last 10 years in Venice, until the last seven months here and it felt like a retreat," said Busch-Lilly.

According to people experiencing homelessness at Echo Park Lake, homeless service providers have been at the park over the past few days. They're offering shelter in programs like Project Roomkey and Project Homekey.

But it's not an option that many people there want to accept.

"These hotel rooms last three to six months, and then they tell you you're gonna go to a congregate shelter where you're gonna be separated from your partner, your pets, your possessions," said Busch-Lilly.

Riley Montgomery has lived in Echo Park for eight years.

"People decided that Echo Park was the safest place to set up an encampment and they set up an encampment here, and it grew and grew and it made it so unsafe for residents to live here," said Montgomery.

He created a petition on petition.org calling on O'Farrell to house those experiencing homelessness and restore the park. It has more than 4,000 signatures.

"We paid $45 million in taxpayer dollars to make this lake a place that everyone can enjoy. And now it's a place that only a few select people can enjoy," said Montgomery.

According to Arranga, O'Farrell's office has placed more than 100 people living at the lake into safe housing and shelter. Though no word on when exactly to expect the park to be closed down.
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