MAR VISTA, Calif. – Dressed in camouflage and a yellow beret, Shannan arrives on the front lines of Los Angeles’s homeless crisis.

“We can’t just throw away people because they are un-housed,” Shannan said.

She asked not to share her last name. The former teacher has never been to this encampment under the 405 Freeway on Venice Boulevard. In fact, she has never seen it in person.

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Armed with sleeping bags, her mission is to find a young woman named Qwin.




A guitar strapped to her back, Qwin lives in one of the most controversial encampments on the Westside. Dozens of tents line the sidewalk and the Los Angeles Police Department says drug use there is rampant.

A few weeks ago, the 26-year-old musician was in despair. She lost a shopping cart packed with supplies in a city clean up, as sanitation workers scrubbed the streets.

Shannan saw Qwin’s story on Spectrum News 1 and jumped into action.

“We have people who are face to face on concrete,” Shannan said. “On saliva. On defecation. And we drive by and act like we don’t see them.”

Shannan bought 10 sleeping bags and other basics, spending about $500 with the hope of making Christmas on the sidewalk a little more comfortable.

“I know the mayor does what he can do, the state is giving a lot of funding, but when you hear that the housing may take two, three, four years, that’s too long. Some people may die tonight,” Shannan said.