Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why Is Sunland-Tujunga a Homeless Center?

Recycling Center One Block From Sunland Park
There's a lot of talk that our Sunland Park homeless problem is caused by church/volunteer groups sharing food with the down and out. That's an issue across the nation and is often a case made by those with animus towards the evangelical Christian and/or Catholic adherents. That's another story, but let's take a look at it.

Using common sense, indeed, if some organization provided meals morning, noon and night on a daily basis, out of the parks, indeed you could say that draws a certain amount of folks. Not just homeless, but at-risk youth and others would come out for food. Fair enough.

But what we see locally is once a week/once a month and sporadic. Usually it's tied to some kind of event/holiday. 

So what brings homeless to the park? Same thing that brings most people to the parks, really. It's a quiet place to sit down, out of the hustle and bustle of other public locations, you can nap under a tree, there's room to wander around and it's pretty. 

But let me submit further to you what I believe is one of the prime contributors, if not the prime contributor, to homeless in Sunand Park is. 

One block from the park at the corner of Floralita Ave and Foothill Blvd is a recycling center (located behind a gas station). These recycling centers draw HUGE numbers of homeless who root cans, bottles and other recyclables out of local trash (in violation of the law) and bring them to these recycling centers in order to earn some cash. 

Recycling Center, behind Mobil Staion
I am certain that many of these homeless, once they cash out and purchase some libation or other intoxicant at any number of nearby legal and illegal outlets, just saunter over to the park for a lovely rest of the day and perhaps, a night's sleep. There is no question that recycling draws out homeless, there are issues at a large shopping center in NoHo with this, more than any little rag-tag group of Christians or anyone making a few sandwiches and sharing them. 

Several years back, the California State Legislature mandated that recycling centers be set up within specific distance of any place that sells bottled and canned beverages. - i.e. supermarkets, convenience stores, gas stations. Let's get the recycling centers out of residential and commercial areas and put them in industrial areas where they belong. And let's enforce the law on trash picking. Just this morning, I saw two homeless people on my block pulling junk out of my neighbor's cans and putting them in a shopping cart. 

The concern among many that a "homeless fair" in the park is not about being "haters" (or hatters?) or a peanut gallery or whatever nonsense the status quo crowd wants to toss out there. It's about creating a permanent image of the park as a homeless service center when there are plenty of other locations nearby that would be more suitable. The fact that this was imposed on us by an out-of-town, new Councilman and that our local leaders were not willing to stand up to him is a sad commentary on our town. It is particularly telling when the City of Los Angeles has a policy of "regionalization" of the homeless. That is, getting the homeless out of Downtown LA and Skid Row where powerful developers want to gentrify the area, and shipping them to key locations in Sunland-Tujunga, Sun Valley, Van Nuys, South Central, East LA and other areas that are generally lower income and politically impotent. 

At what point do we stand up for ourselves to the city, and to the locals who enable the city's nonsense in exchange for a few shiny things from the Councilman of the week?

1 comment:

Michael McSwain said...

In Jesus name, I belive you people and the city should take alot of these abanded buldings that are skatered through Sunland-Tujunga and open them up for shellers for our Sunlan-Tujunga homeless residents in the Sunland park. & help them get back the lives they once had!!