Homeless living in Whittier encampment asked to clear out after residents complain

WHITTIER (KABC) -- The homeless living in dozens of tents in an area of Whittier have been asked to clear the encampment by Friday after residents complained of trespassing and theft.

"Some of these people have taken care of me. They're my friends. I call them my family, my homeless family," said Donna Johnson, who has lived at the site off and on for a year. She was told that the Los Angeles County Department of Social Services would help her find a more permanent home.

"They were going to get vouchers for hotels, they haven't come up with anything. They have nowhere else to go," Johnson said.

Residents in Whittier have complained about the growing encampment for months after some who live in the tents were allegedly caught on doorbell cameras trespassing.

"They actually jumped the fences right over here. They come on our property, they steal packages. We've had them defecating, going to the bathroom, in between houses along the fence line," said Ruben Cardenas, who lives near the encampment.

The homeless encampment in an area known as the Whittier Green Belt has grown to 30 tents.

"They don't want to live by the rules, and I think it's truly unfair that us residents, tax payers that have our properties here - I'm a real estate agent too, so it's frustrating because it impacts the values of people's homes," said Monica Morales, who lives near the encampment.

In addition to the tents, a person claiming to be helping the homeless brought in four additional tents. They have solar power, WiFi, and other amenities and they're being rented out for $300 to $400 per month. But, Donna Johnson said nobody can afford to pay rent, that's why they're homeless.

"This land is owned by Caltrans and has been posted no trespassing. This gentleman was given a notice on Monday to vacate his tents within 72 hours," said Whittier Councilmember Cathy Warner, referring to the tents for rent.

The Whittier residents who live near the encampment say they want to help, but the problem has gotten out of hand.

"It's not like we're against the homeless. We're not, but at the same time, when there's lack of respect for property," Cardenas said.
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