Rancho Dominguez resident grapples with rat problem after homeless camps cleaned up

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ByRob Hayes via KABC logo
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
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West Rancho Dominguez resident seeks help with rat problem near homeless camps

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The strip of land at the corner of Avalon and Compton boulevards used to just house a bus stop, but the past two years it had been swallowed up by a homeless encampment, with trash and tents lining the dirt.

Cleaning up the property became the obsession of West Rancho Dominguez resident Daria Brooks.

"These folks were mostly just gathering to do drugs and hangout and drink," Brooks told Eyewitness News.

Brooks has lived in this neighborhood for 60 years. She says she'd been trying to get Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' office to clean the corner, remove the tents and find homes for the people living there.

RELATED: L.A. County responds to Rancho Dominguez residents' calls to clean up homeless camp

Eyewitness News contacted the supervisor's staff a couple weeks ago and later that day a county crew started clearing the corner, but they left the tents and much of the trash. So Brooks decided to aim higher than Ridley-Thomas by starting an online hashtag campaign on social media.

"We started tagging Gov. Newsom, Karen Bass, Kamala Harris and thought it was important that everybody else know," she said.

The strategy paid off. Just a small collection of items piled near the bus stop remains.

Representatives from Ridley-Thomas' office tell Eyewitness News that county outreach workers have been visiting the site on a weekly basis and found housing for two people who had been living there. They add that roughly 70 homeless people in the West Rancho Dominguez area have been housed as well as part of their efforts to solve the homelessness problem.

But even though most of the mess is gone, the rats are not. A large system of burrows litters the area around the bus stop and rats are easily seen scurrying across the dirt.

Finding the right government agency to deal with rats is now the next task for Brooks. Her persistence is something she hopes people in other neighborhoods with encampments will adopt.

"You think that you've elected people to take care of this," said Brooks. "They're not going to do it on their own. You have to be involved."