LOS ANGELES — For the last seven years, Theodore Henderson has faced the harsh realities of being unhoused in Los Angeles.

“I became unhoused because I was a professional, but you know, I got ill and I could not pay for my medical bills, and my rent. I chose to live instead of staying in a place because I felt that if I could stay alive, I could always find another place,” Henderson said.

What You Need To Know

  • Sit, Lie, Sleep ordinance would ban the unhoused from remaining on public property if they refuse shelter

  • Unhoused individuals say shelters are a temporary solution

  • Councilman Buscaino believes ordinance will help keep streets clear after encampment sweeps

  • L.A. City Council remains divided on the issue; reconvening on this topic on Nov. 24

He never thought his unhoused experience would last this long. In the process, he has been harassed and lost his medications, documents, and belongings during encampment sweeps. These experiences have pushed him to become an advocate for others who are unhoused by creating the We The Unhoused podcast.

In a recent City Council meeting, the city discussed a possible ban that would prevent individuals like Henderson from sitting, lying, or sleeping on public property if they are offered shelter.

Henderson shared that this type of enforcement will not solve the problem.

“This kind of language, these dog whistles, is giving people, the violent people the impetus to do such things,” Henderson said.

That is why Henderson and other unhoused advocacy groups came to City Hall rallying against the city for considering the enforcement policy.

In the City Council meeting, council members were divided and cited lack of housing and potential lawsuits down the road.

If the ordinance passes, 15th District L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino believes it could keep sidewalks and public areas clear. 

“It’s about striking that proper balance that we need to keep our streets clean and safe, as I know as a police officer and a former senior lead officer, but also having the ability to hold homeless individuals accountable by having consequences if they say no to an available bed,” Buscaino said.

For Henderson, going to a shelter means losing his belongings for a temporary solution.

“The decision should be what it should have been in the beginning. It should be just thrown back in the dustbins of history and we should really start talking about how we can [go] from encampments to housing instead of encampments to shelter,” Henderson said.

On Nov. 24, the L.A. City Council will weigh in on this possible enforcement policy. Until then, Henderson is hoping the unhoused voices that would be impacted by it are being heard.