Formerly homeless people move into permanent housing after living in RV encampment near Gardena

Josh Haskell Image
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Formerly homeless people find permanent housing after living in RVs
More than 20 people who lived on the streets in RVs near Gardena are now living in their own permanent supportive homes.

GARDENA, Calif. (KABC) -- More than 20 people who lived on the streets in RVs near Gardena are now living in their own permanent supportive homes.

It's part of the process to help people move from the streets, into temporary shelter and finally into their own homes.

Candice Chandler finally has a permanent place to call home that has everything she needs. It's quite the change from a few months ago when Chandler spoke to Eyewitness News on the streets of East Gardena, where she was homeless and living in a dilapidated RV for years.

RELATED: LA County houses homeless, clears encampments in East Gardena - epicenter of RV homelessness

It's become the so-called Skid Row for RV homelessness in L.A. County. Now some of the unhoused living in the area were moved to temporary shelter, and the RVs were towed away.

"I'm never going to back to that. I'm never going back to that ever. No. If I go back it's to help people and get them off, to bring them where I'm at and elevate their lives," Chandler said. "It just feels good to say it's mine. I signed a lease. I'm not renting from some slumlord that's working me out of my whole [General Relief check]."

In just three months, over 20 people who were living on the streets or in RVs in East Gardena now have a permanent place to call home with supportive services.

"I have no words to say, it's amazing, as you can hear him. He's crying down here," William Escribano said as he looked at his dog. "It's beautiful. It's a blessing."

Escribano had lived in an RV in East Gardena for two years. On Tuesday, he moved into the same permanent supportive housing building as Chandler. The building is pet-friendly.

RELATED: Amid homelessness crisis, stretch of LA County has become an RV wasteland

Hundreds of otherwise-homeless people, including many children, are living in broken-down RVs in this stretch of LA County.

"It's a lot less stress. I don't have to worry about people breaking into my RV - coming up on things, breaking in and stealing... I've had five different bikes stolen," Escribano said. "Everything that I've had is gone. I don't have nothing no more. I have a hamper full of clothes. That's it."

Everyone who moved into the permanent supportive housing is part of L.A. County's Pathway Home program.

Once the formerly unhoused left East Gardena, they lived in a nearby hotel where they received mental health and substance abuse treatment, meeting daily with a case worker. The service provider, St. Joseph's Center, says once a person has a home of their home, it's much easier for them to engage in services.

"This is where the real housing stabilization begins," said Maia Eaglin, the senior director of programs at St. Joseph's Center. "This is where people begin to rebuild their lives."