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Home / Impact / Movements / Fire displaces encampment on unhoused residents in Arcadia

Fire displaces encampment on unhoused residents in Arcadia

encampment at 2nd and Colorado
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One of the unhoused residents at the encampment was a victim of domestic violence from Monrovia with a 13-year-old daughter

Late last month there was a fire at Second Avenue and Colorado Boulevard where several unhoused men and women were camping. One of the campers was cooking and it caught a tent on fire. Everyone voluntarily cleared out after that, according to Arcadia Councilwoman April Verlato.

City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto told Beacon Media: “The unfortunate reality is that there just aren’t that many options for the folks affected by the fire. Shelter space is extremely limited throughout the San Gabriel Valley. For the most part the unhoused have simply relocated to other parts of the city while we seek housing alternatives for them. Our Housing Navigators were working with the people at the encampment prior to the fire and will continue to try to match them to the specific services they need. In the meantime, their only real option is to remain on our streets.”

Prior to the fire, a small but vocal group expressed opposition to the city’s plan to house some individuals in a tiny shelter project. Chanting “No tiny homes” and carrying signs that depicted the homeless as a danger to the city’s children, this Facebook group went to councilmembers’ homes to voice their objections to unhoused people in Arcadia. Some in the group went so far as to demand that Foothill Unity Center reduce or stop services that help the unhoused in the immediate area.

The City Council recently tabled the idea for the so-called “tiny homes” project. However, as Verlato succinctly put it: “The seed has been sewn…” for constructive dialog to deal with what is a critical issue facing the nation.

We asked Verlato about the latest test for the homeless at Second and Colorado.

“The real story is that one of the campers was a victim of domestic violence with a 13-year-old daughter who was trying to stay in the area until school was done. All that was available to her was shelter in downtown LA, but she wanted to stay in the area because her daughter was in a local school. I heard from someone in the camp that after the fire, she ended up taking shelter in DTLA and her daughter was unable to finish out the school year,” Verlato shared.

“The San Gabriel Valley has over 5,000 homeless individuals but only 320 shelter beds (between Pomona and Pasadena). The mother of domestic violence was from Monrovia. Where do we expect her to go when she has to flee a violent, abusive boyfriend, but she has no money?”

Councilman Tom Beck pointed out that “The area [Second Avenue and Colorado Boulevard] is part of our no-camping redline [no camping under freeways and underpasses].” But since there was a fire “in an emergency action the belongings had to be moved without the normal written warning.”

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