Open Collective
Open Collective
End of Year Update - Reflecting on 2022
Published on December 24, 2022 by Meggie Kelley

It is no secret that 2022 has been a big and challenging year for us at Fairfax Mutual Aid. Many of you know that were were previously operating as the Street Watch's Mid-City local for over two-and-a-half years. On Sunday, August 21st, 2022, members of DSA-LA, led by the “elected Housing and Homelessness Committee chair”, and with support from members of LA CAN, enacted a forced “pause” of Street Watch after ongoing internal and unresolved conflict. We lost our funding source and were given two weeks notice to submit all reimbursements. But even before this happened, we knew all along that no matter what happened to Street Watch we were committed to continuing solidarity work with our unhoused neighbors in the Fairfax and Beverly Grove neighborhoods of West LA. 

When we reflect on 2022 we are also reflect on the horrific things we've witnessed and heard about in the past year. Fairfax Mutual Aid exists first and foremost because we believe our unhoused constituents are being severely neglected and criminalized by the City of Los Angeles as well as by many other neighboring cities in Los Angeles County. Unhoused people are being swept away daily with no offers of housing or services, and we have all been witnesses to it. The City of Los Angeles is authorizing the severing of community support and the disposal of essential belongings owned by our most vulnerable community members. 

Paul Koretz's office has continuously neglected our unhoused neighbors in Council District 5. Since he took office in 2013 homelessness has gone up 175% in his district. In order to end this crisis, city authorities need to focus on permanent supportive housing with wraparound services instead of ineffective interim "solutions" that continue to fail people with false promises of a path towards permanent housing. Koretz's district has the least amount of subsidized low income housing units out of all 15 Council Districts. We believe encampment sweeps and LAMC Section 41.18 isolates and criminalizes people living below the poverty line in Los Angeles, and we refuse to sit silently until the sweeps stop, 41.18 is repealed and permanent supportive housing with wraparound services is offered to those living on the streets. 

It is our shared purpose as an organization to cultivate solidarity with our unhoused neighbors as well as build relationships with other mutual aid organizations in Los Angeles. As Dean Spade writes in his book Mutual Aid: Solidarity During This Crisis “Without connection, we end up with disconnected groups, working in their issue silos, undermining each other, competing for attention and funding, not backing each other up and not building power. Mutual aid projects, by creating spaces where people come together on the basis of some shared need or concern in spite of their different and lived experience, cultivate solidarity.” There is so much wonderful solidarity work happening throughout Los Angeles, we are most especially grateful for all the support and endless inspiration from other organizations in our coalition including: Palms Unhoused Mutual Aid (PUMA), LA Neighbors for Neighbors (LAN4N), Free Food Collective, South Bay Mutual Aid and Care Club (SBMCC), Mar Vista Voice and Home-y Made Meals.

It took a big push for get all our logistics in order after we lost funding from Street Watch in August. This push included naming ourselves, creating an identity and shared values, banking, fundraising, making a website, generating social media accounts, all while continuing to do weekly outreach, encampment sweep support and participating in call-to-action events around Los Angeles. We are grateful for Open Collective making this transition so much easier for us.

Finally, we have so much gratitude for all the monetary contributions we have received in the past few months since establishing ourselves at Fairfax Mutual Aid. Our efforts are 100% volunteer-led and 100% grassroots funded and we could not do the work we do without the donations we have received. Fairfax Mutual Aid includes all the people who have donated.

As 2022 comes to an end, we reflect on all the lessons we learned from the past year and we look forward to 2023 and learning more ways to be a better and more sustainable organization who advocates for our unhoused neighbors.