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What’s Being Done To Help The Unhoused In The Rain?

Brown water surges through the Los Angeles river on a rainy day. An orange metal bridge connects one side of the river to another.
The Los Angeles River during a storm
(John Rabe
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Well, guess what, my fellow Angelenos? We’re getting more rain this weekend. The upside for storm-weary folks is that the weather should be a little less intense than earlier this week – that applies to Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, too.

Keeping Our Unhoused Communities Safe

These past few weeks of back-to-back winter storms have been rough for a lot of people in our communities, but this morning I want to talk about some of our most vulnerable neighbors: the unhoused.

My colleague Julia Barajas spoke this week with law enforcement and other county officials who are working to ensure people are safe.

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Not only is it cold and wet out there but many people experiencing homelessness have set up tents and other makeshift shelters along the L.A. River, which has seen rising waters and flooding.

With a goal of preventing deaths and dangerous swift water rescues, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has partnered with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to warn unhoused Angelenos about potential dangers. Over the last two weeks, Julia reports outreach teams have visited at least 16 water channels, including the L.A. river, Rio Hondo, the San Gabriel River and Coyote Creek.

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Additionally, LAHSA has been contacting several people in high risk areas and helping them find augmented winter shelters.

In Orange County, it has been particularly challenging for the unhoused. Rain levels are higher than normal and, for the first time in 15 years, OC doesn’t have a temporary cold weather shelter, because they haven’t found anyone to run it. There are permanent shelters but there are often a lot of requirements to be able to stay in one.

My colleague Jill Replogle interviewed Michal Sean Wright, the founder of Wound Walk OC, who described how crucial it is for people who are struggling with homelessness to get more support when the weather turns bad.

"The underpasses are just really harsh conditions," Wright said. "We have to wear ear protection when we go under there because of how loud the cars are. Now imagine all the exhaust fumes and the pollutants that are in the air, plus the cold temperatures, the wet conditions, that's not favorable for good health."

If you would like more L.A. County or Orange County resources about emergency housing, call 2-1-1. You can also visit LAHSA or OC Housing Authority websites.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

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More News

(After you stop hitting snooze)

*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding. 

  • City National Bank has agreed to a $31 million settlement over alleged lending discrimination against Black and Latino homebuyers in L.A. County after the Department of Justice filed a complaint in federal court Thursday. Money from the settlement is intended to assist impacted Black and Latino homebuyers.
  • With more rain expected this weekend, crews have been out in force cleaning up debris basins that are full from last week’s storms. It’s a tough task. L.A. County Public Works teams are trying to clear some 7,000 cubic yards of debris in less than 48 hours.
  • SoCal is having a wet winter, with more rain expected over the weekend. For some who work outdoors, heavy rain can mean a loss in income. We head to Santa Ana to check in with street vendors and others about how they've been coping with back to back storms. 
  • We got record rain up and down California this last week but, sorry folks, the drought isn’t over. Though some reservoirs are almost full and the soil is saturated in many areas, it could take years to reverse the damage caused by drought in some places. 
  • Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis Presley, has died at the age of 54. The singer-songwriter who lived her whole life in the spotlight went into cardiac arrest Thursday at a home in Calabasas. (AP)
  • California is rethinking water management strategies at two reservoirs that could better help the state save storm water for later use. Here’s how it could work.
  • A new memoir from queer Chicano punk rock icon Kid Congo Powers offers a historical musical map of Los Angeles. In Some New Kind of Kick, this former guitarist for The Cramps, tells a story about coming of age in the city, coming clean from addiction and finding your people.
  • Dance at the Odyssey Festival at the Odyssey Theatre this weekend. Explore the VardaVerse at the Academy Museum. Attend Anime Impulse to honor all things anime at the Fairplex. Or choose another thing to do this weekend. We have a whole list.
  • *At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

Wait... One More Thing

What Does Eaton Canyon Look Like After A Week Of Steady Rain?

A river running through a wooded, rocky valley.
Eaton Canyon had rushing water and several mudslides after recent storms.
(Jackie Orchard

We Californians are known to love our hikes. We haven’t been able to do much of that for the past couple of weeks but my colleague Jackie Orchard took a trip to the mountains on our behalf. She went to a popular hiking spot in Eaton Canyon in the Angeles National Forest to talk to some hikers and take a few pictures after all the rain.

People up and down the state have taken some gorgeous photos of our natural environment after these storms, like this shot of Phantom Falls near Chico. It’s almost otherworldly.

Now, as pretty as it looks, I do want to warn you that it’s not the best time to go explore the outdoors. For instance, Jackie spoke to hiker Ariel Kostrzewski in Eaton Canyon this week who underscored the risks.

“Definitely a lot of mudslides. I was hiking up there on the Altadena Crest Trail and there were, like, complete walls completely slid down the mountain,” Kostrzewski said. “It was pretty sketchy up there. Like lots of loose rocks. I fell a couple of times, kind of cut my hand pretty bad.”

Another hiker named Hilda Guzman noted that one of the entrances was flooded.

So, even if you feel the urge to hit the trail, it's best to stay away from the mountains for a while – mudslides can occur even after the rain stops. Always check conditions before you go.

Given our current snowpack, those waterfalls will keep giving. You can still enjoy them when it's a little safer. We’ll keep you posted on when and where to go in a future newsletter.

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