LOS ANGELES — Jose, or as he likes to be called “shadow,” is trying to survive. He grew up in downtown Los Angeles.
“I became a gang member at 11. I grew up in a neighborhood of gang members where you become a gang member,” he said.
Shadow said he left the gang life behind and lived at the McCoy encampment, near the Harbor City Greenway until recently, when the city told him and others they had to go.
“They make us leave the whole property with all of our stuff, so they can come clean up, which they don’t clean up, anyway. They are forcing us out into the street,” Shadow said.
Shadow moved across Vermont Avenue into the neighborhood.
Dani, who asked only to be identified by her first name, is a volunteer and advocate for homeless people working closely with the encampment.
“I have been out here since last week trying to figure out what the city, what the sanitation department, told everybody and trying to get a story straight. It sounds like they did not do any outreach to residents or the businesses,” she said.
The area is part of Councilman Joe Buscaino’s district, who is also running for LA mayor.
His spokesman said his office performed outreach three weeks ago about construction to restore the Harbor City Greenway, next to the encampment, that he said caused hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of damage. His office said 16 people were offered transitional housing in a tiny home village, across from Harbor City College and no one took them up on it.
But Shadow said he and others were forced out.
“We don’t have homes. We are finally at a place where we can live and put our feet down not trying to take anything from nobody,” he said.
Shadow said he doesn’t know how long he and others from the nearby Lomitia encampment will be able to stay at the location, but is praying for a positive outcome.