Owner of East Hollywood day care center says nearby homeless encampment has hurt business

Josh Haskell Image
Wednesday, January 17, 2024
East Hollywood day care center says encampment has hurt business
The owner of a day care center in East Hollywood says a nearby homeless encampment has hurt business and decreased safety in the area.

EAST HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A few hundred feet from a day care center in East Hollywood sits a growing homeless encampment at the intersection of Fountain and Alexandria avenues.

The owner of the small business, Naira Sargsyan, says it was once full with a waiting list. But since the encampment appeared, she said, the number of children at the day care center has dropped from 14 to six.

"Families coming for a tour, they love everything about my education, my experience, the services I provide," Sargsyan said in an interview with ABC7. "But, the only thing that scares parents is to have homeless people next to my house. I don't blame them. As a mother, I don't feel safe as well, like them. If it continues like this, I'm scared. I think very soon I'm going to close my doors."

Sargsyan says the entire neighborhood is fed up because at all hours, those who live at the encampment wander the area and have trespassed onto properties including the day care.

"Twenty-five years old -- young man standing next to my house, holding a car, small toy car. Playing with it," said Sargsyan. "I'm like yes, you can have it. A week passed. He came again, and again, and again. Last time, I was very tough. I said, 'Go. This is for kids. I can't share it with you.' They're coming. They're opening the gates. They're coming inside, which is scary."

The Supreme Court will hear a case deciding whether cities can punish homeless individuals for camping and sleeping in public spaces when shelter beds are unavailable.

"I'm usually walking around the street," said longtime resident Andranik Koshkryn. "But, now, I'm not walking. I'm scared to walk because they are very bad people. We cannot walk. Sidewalk is closed."

In a statement, Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez's office said: "This encampment is one of our top priorities for housing and services in the district -- nearly every person at the encampment is ready to move into housing as soon as beds open up. The city only has 400 interim housing beds for over 3,000 people living on the streets of our district, and those beds are currently at 100% occupancy. We are committed to helping everyone at the encampment off the streets to get back on their feet, and we will continue to have weekly cleanings at the encampment until everyone is able to move into housing."

Not far from that encampment in East Hollywood, the second Inside Safe operation took place Tuesday at Hollywood at Cahuenga Avenue and the 101 Freeway. After the first Inside Safe operation, the encampment came back.

On Tuesday, eight individuals -- who the city said were not living at the encampment during the first Inside Safe operation -- were offered housing. Under Inside Safe, Bass has pledged encampments won't return. So ABC7 asked the city what's being done to prevent tents from coming back a third time.

"Once you do the work, you re-evaluate your strengths and weaknesses," said Annetta Wells, the senior director of Inside Safe. "We have a response team that -- once an area has been cleared and has been deemed an Inside Safe operation complete -- our team will go back and monitor that area, ensuring that no tents get set up again and start an encampment."