Jurisdictions sparking frustration in homelessness reporting

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Beneath the intersection of the 405 and 710 freeways is a small community of homeless people. A series of tarp-walled living areas nestled beneath the concrete is surrounded by a vast collection of bicycles stacked.

A couple of miles away, another homeless encampment stretches along a Union Pacific rail line through residential neighborhoods. People who live there are upset with what they call rampant drug use and unsanitary conditions.

"Its very frustrating," said Beatrice Arellano. "You wonder, 'Are they going to come down and go into your property? Are they going to break in?'"

But often the most frustrating question is "Who do you call?" With so many different jurisdictions involved, oftentimes figuring out which branch of government to call can be complicated.

"The challenge is jurisdictions," Long Beach City Councilman Al Austin told Eyewitness News. "You can be MTA in one area, you can be in a Caltrans area just a hundred feet away, you can be in the city of Long Beach or the county of Los Angeles."

Austin points to his city's recent homeless count, which found the homeless population rose just 2% from last year, just a fraction of L.A.'s 16% rise.

But Austin says it is still a growing problem that the city is working hard to solve.

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn admits finding the right office to call can be frustrating for people looking to report homeless problems. With the county allotting $460 million this year to homelessness-related programs, Hahn says the resources are there to get more people off the street.

"What I want to see happen is more of our homeless outreach workers traversing the county of Los Angeles on a daily basis and finding people before someone has to call," Hahn said.

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