Tents set up by Homeless people on the sidewalk in the Skid Row area of Los Angles.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 10-4 on July 29 to resume The Care Plus Cleanup, which enforces the major cleanup of homeless encampments surrounding Los Angeles’ Bridge Home Shelters. 

But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen. Mayor Eric Garcetti is set to make a decision soon. 

“This 10-4 vote doesn’t mean the city has announced we will do this,” Garcetti said. 

Among those who voted for the plan is Councilman Bob Blumenfeld.

“We made promises to the community that those areas would not become magnets for more encampments and for the buildups of items and trash,” he said. “This is a promise that LA needs to keep reducing future resistance to homeless shelters and housing.”

Councilman David Ryu, who voted against the plan, said, “Public health experts have made it absolutely clear that encampment sweeps during a pandemic are a bad idea. Moving our unhoused neighbors around while they’re trying to stay safer at home is unsafe for them and unsafe for the community.”

Many Angelenos and activists called in to comment on the cleanup. 

One Angeleno from Venice Beach said, “There have been a lot of broken promises to both the housed and the unhoused about how the cleanup of encampments would operate. Things aren’t being managed as the city had pledged.” Another Angeleno from Venice Beach said, “The trash is overwhelming now. It’s sad and disgusting. We’re going to end up with the bubonic plague.” 

Some believe that cleanups displace and harass people who are experiencing homelessness, trash their crucial belongings, and put them at greater risk during the pandemic. Many pointed out that Los Angeles’ existing shelters do not have enough room for all of the people experiencing homelessness on nearby streets.

Originally, the city of Los Angeles planned to spend $8.6 million to ensure round-the-clock policing around the homeless encampments and shelter sites. However, budget reductions changed those plans.

All of Los Angeles’ districts have a Bridge Home, or temporary housing for people who are experiencing homelessness. One Bridge Home usually houses 80 to 100 homeless people. The Bridge Homes have services for homeless people to transition to having a new home. These services include teams that use data-driven tools to provide public health services to encampments, identify areas of highest need and ensure that the hardest-hit areas receive regularly scheduled cleanups and hygiene services. The teams also receive specialized mental health training and deliver public health resources, including daily trash collection and mobile restrooms. 

When the coronavirus pandemic began, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health didn’t want the city of Los Angeles to make any alterations to the homeless encampments, because it might expose the homeless people to the disease. As a result, many efforts to resolve the LA’s homeless crisis, including The Care Plus Cleanup, were put on hold. This vote of 10-4 is the resuming of that cleanup.

When The Care Plus Cleanup is in action, the homeless people receive a notice from LA Sanitization and Bureau Street Services and LASA. The notice lets them know that they have between 48 to 72 hours before The Care Plus Cleanup comes. When the cleaners arrive, the homeless people are given half an hour to move before the cleaning begins. The cleaning includes tent removal and the steam cleaning of sidewalks and streets. The cleanups usually take anywhere from two hours to the entire day. The homeless people are not prohibited from returning.