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Morning Brief: LA's Homeless Encampments, Mask Or No Mask, And Visiting A Botanical Garden

(Chava Sanchez
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Good morning, L.A. It’s May 14.

Homeless encampments in L.A. have recently become a flashpoint in the ongoing — and escalating — housing crisis. Most recently, law enforcement faced off with protesters and residents at Echo Park, from which an unhoused community was evicted in March.

Prior to that, the L.A. City Council was considering a so-called anti-camping motion, which would have criminalized homeless encampments.

And yesterday saw a new volley in an ongoing judicial standoff between a judge and local governments.

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Now, a new report suggests that clearing encampments may be ineffective and harmful — a point long argued by activists.

Nichole Fiore, a senior associate for the consultancy Abt Associates and co-author of the report, spoke to my colleague A Martínez about her research. Fiore explained that in many American cities, governments forcefully clear encampments, shut down the area, and offer former residents support in connecting to social services.

But, she said, that strategy frequently fails.

“Although this is the dominant strategy,” she noted, “outreach workers in at least one city [say it] exacerbates the challenges of moving residents to shelters or permanent housing.”

Plus, it’s expensive. Fiore and her team found that the cost of evicting unhoused communities ranged from $3,393,000 in Houston to $8,557,000 in San Jose, and that most of that money came from those cities’ budgets.

On top of that, many residents of encampments simply prefer them to shelters.

“Shortcomings in shelter policies, a sense of community and safety within encampments, and a desire for autonomy contribute to some people’s preferences for encampments over shelters,” Fiore said.

How this research will be implemented, especially in a place with a housing crisis as severe as Los Angeles', remains to be seen.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

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What Else You Need To Know Today

Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

This 24-year-old TikTok star is giving back to street vendors during the pandemic. (LAist)

A new boutique in Boyle Heights teaches teens how to be entrepreneurs. (Boyle Heights Beat)

An upcoming episode of the Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans Go! skewers the hipsters of Silver Lake. (The Eastsider)

The school year isn’t going to get any longer. Here’s why. (LAist)

Dodger dogs are now coming from a new vendor — but don’t worry, it’s still in Vernon. (LAist)

Al fresco dining might be here to stay. (LAist)

Taco eating competitions are no joke; here’s how to prepare for one, if you’re so inclined. (L.A. Taco)

Tres leches recipes are as varied as the chefs who make them, and there are plenty of options in L.A. (LAist)

Before You Go ... This Weekend's Outdoor Pick: South Coast Botanic Garden

Photo of the South Coast Botanic Gardens
LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

Located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the South Coast Botanic Garden’s first major planting took place 60 years ago. Since then, the collection has grown to more than 200,000 plants. In addition to the flora and fauna of the area, check out the SOAR Tropical Butterflies exhibition, as well as the Garden’s monthly Dog Walking Day on Sunday.

Or, you could: Laugh as comics share stories of their worst summers ever. Watch kids throw elbows at a junior roller derby expo. Shop for snazzy crafted goods or Hollywood collectibles. Check out Ai Wei Wei’s latest exhibition — in person. Listen to love notes in the park. Attend a virtual bug fair. Eat jägerschnitzel, Gumbalaya, taquitos and pastrami tostadas. And more.

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