ECHO PARK, Calif. — The water view is what keeps Ruth Beaglehole walking in this park every day. She’s lived in Echo Park for 50 years.
That means she also has a daily view of the homeless encampment in the park.
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She’s always felt safe, and says people in the tents have kept the area clean. She’s OK with them being here.
“I’m not about blaming the victim. These people are here because they need a place to be," Beaglehole said. "They are here because they find some sense of community.
The community gathered this morning to protest the cleaning and removal of people who sleep here. Both sides were eventually able to talk, shake hands and no one was removed from the park.
But that brought little solace to the community across the street. Residents of the senior living apartment complex say they’ve found needles, and drug kitchens on their property. And it’s affecting their quality of life.
“It is everybody’s park, it’s a public park, but it’s not a park for people to live in and abuse,” said Jane Wood.
They’ve donated money to help people living right across from them. And many of the residents are veterans, so they are concerned for the homeless vets. But they still want the tents removed and for people to be given proper housing.
“Surely, having tents in the park is not a shelter, a homeless shelter," said Dorothy DeAngelis. "And it is not the answer to the homeless crisis.”
Beaglehole agrees that it’s a crisis, and thinks something needs to be done to help them.
“I’m saying that we need to take this on as a problem, and if we are moving them, find a place that is safe for them where they can create this community," she said. "And if they can stay, ask them to continue to be respectful of the space they’re in."
But finding a permanent solution, won’t be as easy as a walk in the park.