Councilman Gil Cedillo seeks to help growing homeless population in Elysian Park

ELYSIAN PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A growing homeless population in Elysian Park is becoming a problem and a city councilman visited the encampment to see what he could do to help.

The team of city and county officials approached a man named Sam who had a makeshift home and asked to be left alone.

It is one of several encampments that can be spotted in the area.

Eyewitness News reached out to Councilman Gil Cedillo, who was recently re-elected, about the homeless issue. The day following the election, he gathered a team of professionals to reach out to folks living on a hillside.

"It's amazing that people are resourceful and looking for a place to find shelter," Cedillo said.

There were tents, backpacks and blankets, but no one was around.

Capt. Albert Torres said the number of illegal encampments in the park has grown over the years. With all the dry brush in the area, one of the biggest concerns is the fire danger.

In April, a brush fire erupted near a homeless encampment in Montecito Heights. Another one off the 405 Freeway happened earlier this week and remains under investigation.

"They do pose dangers both for the homeless and for local residents and for the environment," Cedillo said.

That is why officials continue joint efforts to deliver needed resources to the homeless population in these areas.

The sheriff's department's mental evaluation teams do what they can to establish trust, such as wearing plain clothes and engaging with those living in the encampments.

For many of them, the bottom line is compassion.

"This way I can reach them. Whether they have mental illness or whether they are addicted to narcotics or alcohol, they discern that we have compassion," Torres said.
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