LA officials clash with protestors over unhoused encampments at Echo Park Lake

Echo Park Lake is lined with homeless tents, but the city wants to move out all these unhoused residents and shut down the area, March 24, 2021. Photo by Anna Scott/KCRW

One of the largest homeless encampments in the city is in the process of being dismantled. It’s located in Echo Park, along the banks of the lake there. City contractors, accompanied by police, put up fences and signs ordering the people living in tents there to leave by 10:30 Thursday night. The park is closing for a $500,000 renovation. 

On Thursday night, a tense stand-off unfolded between protestors and the police. Protestors say homeless residents have the right to be there, and the city isn’t offering viable alternatives. 

Community organizer Carlos Marroquin said, “Once again they are criminalizing the unhoused population. What we are seeing is taxpayers’ money being wasted. There's no need for this — absolutely no need for this."

The city says it’s making every effort to find housing for those who want it.

KCRW housing reporter Anna Scott says, “Homelessness is very visible, and Echo Park just lives at the intersection of all these tensions and clashing concerns. This is a beloved park. It's an unusually large encampment. Unhoused people feel they built a community in a city with few options. While housed people who live nearby, many of them are disturbed by the situation. They feel the park has been overrun by the encampment.”

Scott says approximately 66,000 unhoused people live in LA County, with more than 40,000 residing in the City of LA. 

More: Greater LA: Echo Park Lake to close for repairs. What will happen to the unhoused people there?