Family of 18, including 13 children, living on the streets of Westlake amid struggle to find housing

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Friday, January 26, 2024
Family of 16 living on streets in Westlake, struggles to find housing
A family of five adults and multiple children, including several toddlers, has been living on the streets of Westlake since September while struggling to find temporary housing.

WESTLAKE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A family of five adults and 13 children, including several toddlers, has been living on the streets of Westlake since September while struggling to find temporary housing.

One of the children, a young girl, skipped rope on a sidewalk on Thursday, evoking the simple innocence of youth as ABC7 interviewed her family members. That sidewalk has been their home for the past several months.

Ana Madrid said there are 18 people living in the small makeshift encampment, which is covered by a tarp. The family members, who are from Honduras, live in a small tent on Alvarado Street near MacArthur Park.

Madrid said the sidewalk is where they spent Christmas, New Year's Eve and days in the rain.

Her husband, Jorge Luis Garcia, said his children have not been able to go to school because other children have attacked him outside.

Madrid said the family has spoken with Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, but because the family is so large it has been difficult placing them somewhere.

Madrid said they were told they have to be patient. But they have been waiting for three months, she said.

While LA County homeless count is underway one organization focuses on the youth

"The number of youths experiencing homelessness increased by about 40% in the last year," said Erika Heartman, CEO of Safe Place for Youth.

Good news came Thursday afternoon. The Dream Center said it became aware of the family's situation and would be able to place them in a shelter.

The nonprofit "serves as a resource center focused on providing support to those affected by homelessness, hunger, and the lack of education through residential and community outreach programs," according to its website.

"The Dream Center has always tried to react swiftly to provide solutions in every situation especially where children live on the streets," the organization said in a statement. "It's always a joyful moment when you can provide a safe place for families to take a deep breath from life's struggles and to help them rebuild."

Read more: Homeless family of 18 now off streets and getting help with housing in Southern California

Jorge Luis was very excited when ABC7 informed him of the development. He said he wanted to thank everyone that has helped his family, adding that he just wants a better place for his children.

The family was still in the makeshift tent on the sidewalk Friday morning.

EDITORIAL NOTE: An earlier version of this story stated there were 16 people, but in a follow-up interview, the family said there are 18 total, including 13 children.