Open Collective
Open Collective
2023 End of Year Update
Published on December 20, 2023 by Kris R

LA Street Care had a busy year! We grew our membership of committed organizers and strengthened our community of housed and unhoused Angelenos. Our group was thrilled to start the year with the elimination of sweeps in Council District 13, and we worked with encampment residents and city officials to eliminate harassment from sanitation teams during spot cleanings. The moratorium on sweeps in CD13 unfortunately did not last more than a few months, but we hosted a community clean-up day in March to try to prevent the displacement of our friends at the Juanita Community. While our efforts failed to downgrade the sweep, we showed up for our neighbors the morning of and held the council office accountable for the harm they caused, preventing subsequent sweeps at the location until residents moved into temporary housing.

We faced significant challenges with the Mayor’s Inside Safe program, which has failed to provide transparency, listen to the needs of its participants, or even identify a significant amount of permanent housing – despite the program’s $250 million budget. We advocated for the Mayor’s team to increase outreach in the lead-up to Inside Safe operations, provide storage for belongings that don’t meet the program’s two-bag limit, and end the use of coercive and dehumanizing tactics. We advocated for the replacement of belongings destroyed by the program during move-ins and for the end of carceral conditions at program sites. We also identified the near-complete lack of services Inside Safe provides. Despite Mayor Karen Bass and Councilmembers like Hugo Soto-Martínez touting the program’s mental health services, it essentially provides none. 

The longer we do this work, the more we see how completely broken the systems meant to help people are. The city won’t house the unhoused, but they will destroy their only form of shelter and write them tickets for existing in public. When every domestic violence shelter consistently remains at capacity, the city’s budget for domestic violence services is somehow stagnant year-over-year despite significant need and inflation. While the neighborhoods we cover were ultimately spared the brunt of Hurricane Hilary, the city failed to conduct outreach to warn about the imminent storm or share information about emergency shelters with a single encampment in our neighborhoods as Hilary loomed off the coast. 

We strive not to center money in our work, but when the city and county continue to fail in their duty to meet the needs of vulnerable Angelenos, mutual aid fills at least some of the gaps – oftentimes leaning on financial and material donations from community members. The bulk of our collective’s 2023 budget covered survival supplies: tents, sleeping bags, blankets, tarps, clothing, hygiene items, first aid, pet necessities, storage, hand warmers, food, and the like.

Contributions from the community helped provide aid to people in crisis, including motel rooms for survivors as they escape abusive partners and survival necessities for people who lost housing or whose belongings were seized during sweeps. This year, we also launched the LA Street Care Mutual Aid Grant — a grant that puts tax-free money directly in the pockets of unhoused, formerly unhoused, and housing-insecure Angelenos in need of emergency financial support.

While reflecting on our year and setting our priorities for 2024, our membership found consensus in wanting to go deeper. Part of what differentiates our mutual aid work from charity is our commitment to building lasting relationships with and taking direction from the unhoused. We will continue our outreach, advocacy, and mission for accountability while putting a greater emphasis on community engagement and education. We want to create more figurative and literal space to grow our bonds and work toward a better Los Angeles for everyone.