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Union Station Boots Out Homeless People Using It As A Shelter

Union Station (Photo by Dan Freund via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Union Station is testing out a new policy aimed at booting out homeless passengers who take up residence in the front seating area. This new policy comes just as Metro, which owns Union Station, is working on restoring the station, attracting some new eateries and pondering a major overhaul.

Metro writes that in recent weeks, an average of about 135 homeless people were staying at the station each night and using it as a place to sleep. They say that passengers complained about some "extremely unpleasant sanitary issues."

The new policy—and it's just a pilot policy for now—is to only allow Amtrak or Metrolink passengers to sit in that area within two hours of their departure time. That means even Metro bus and rail riders won't be allowed to sit in that area. Security guards will be checking tickets and booting out people without them.

Ken Pratt, the director of Los Angeles Union Station Property Management for Metro, said in a statement:

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"All this really comes down to this question: who does Union Station really serve? Our customers were being accosted and couldn’t even use the restroom at times because people have been camping in there. We really are trying to do this on two fronts — not just enforcement, but with outreach to homeless in the area surrounding Union Station to bring people to services they need and services to individuals. We are trying very hard to figure things out and working to solve this problem in the right way.”

This summer Union Station started testing out other ways of making sure that the train station wasn't being used as a place to sleep. It brought in the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which tried to connect the homeless population there with information on shelters, housing opportunities and health care.