City planning to close out homeless encampment at MacArthur Park starting Oct. 15

A recent count showed there were about 45 tenants in MacArthur Park.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The city of Los Angeles is planning to clear out a homeless encampment at MacArthur Park as part of a "rehabilitation" project the city says will last about 10 weeks.

According to councilmember Gil Cedillo's office, the closure will begin Friday, Oct. 15, and will last through the end of the year.

It'll impact portions of the park located south of Wilshire Boulevard for what Cedillo's office calls "much-needed deferred maintenance."

The north side of MacArthur Park that isn't part of the closure will remain open.

"We want to provide a safe, clean and secure park for all people that come to MacArthur Park to play, relax and enjoy this precious open space that lies in the heart of our low-income neighborhood of Westlake," said Cedillo in a statement released on Monday. "We made significant improvements to MacArthur Park, including a new playground, synthetic soccer field, new sod, landscaping, and a dance floor for the Levitt Pavilion band shell. We are now completing much-needed deferred maintenance to provide a better park for children and families."

A recent count showed there were about 45 tenants at MacArthur Park. Cedillo said housing and shelter for the homeless will continue to be provided.

In March, after several nights of protests and dozens of arrests, homeless encampments at Echo Park Lake were cleared.

Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed seven new laws aimed at addressing the state's homelessness crisis.

Among California's myriad problems - including wildfires, historic drought and a changing climate impacting them both - homelessness is perhaps the most visible, with tens of thousands of people living in encampments in cities large and small across the state.

California's homelessness crisis was the top talking point among Newsom's critics prior to the pandemic, a topic Newsom addressed in a big way when he devoted his entire 2020 "State of the State" address to the issue.
In the past three years, California has spent more than $2.4 billion of state and federal money on a handful of major homelessness programs, with most of it going to local governments for things like leasing hotels and motels for housing the homeless during the pandemic.

The programs have had success, but have done little to change public perception of the homelessness problem - a fact Newsom acknowledged during a recent news conference in Los Angeles.

READ ALSO | Mandatory cleanups of homeless encampments resume in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles' mandatory homeless encampment cleanup program, known as CARE+, resumed at the request of the City Council.

"We live in a situational world where people want to see results immediately," he said. "But when it comes to these issues, it takes years and years to see those results."

California's budget this year includes about $7.4 billion to pay for 30 housing and homelessness programs, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. The budget commits about $12 billion for homelessness programs over the next two years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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