At LA's largest RV encampment, cleanup is slow

On the second of the month, rent on 131st Street and Broadway is past due. 

RV landlord Altie Graham goes through this most months and says it's always a complicated process. 

"When they don’t pay, I get the pink slip here," Altie Graham said. "Then I get a posse because I have got a gang of them and they might have weapons, they may have guns, however they want to get down."  

When things go down out there, it’s not pretty. 

"They just threatened to tear up my truck, threatened to sick their dog on me, threatened to shoot me," added Graham, defending his possible retaliation. "And I’m by myself. I got a bad hip." 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Inside LA County's largest concentration of homeless RVs

Graham’s sick of this because he deals with it every month. He owns and rents out four RVs in LA County’s largest concentration of homeless campers. FOX 11 first took gave you an exclusive look inside the encampment in February.

Four months later, more than 500 RVs still line six square miles of mostly unincorporated LA County and LA City’s Harbor Gateway.  

"I don’t want these trailers," Graham said. "I do this to help people. I’m a recovering addict. I’ve been sober 16 years, thank God." 

Graham said he buys the RVs from auction and that he's "not trying to keep them in there forever. I give them the trailers to live in, and then they start trying to take them from me." 

Formerly homeless, Graham said this is his way of giving back, as long as tenants pay their $500 a month rent.  

Graham got into an altercation with one of his tenants this collection day. "I told him if he gives me $1,500 cash you can have the pink slip to the trailer, it’s yours," said Graham. "If you live in the trailer for a month, it’s $500 a month. If you go look in that big trailer it’s got two beds in there. Fourteen of them in one trailer and four kids. Then after I gave them that trailer their mama came. She was all living in there with them. I said there’s too many of ya’ll." 

SUGGESTED: Federal government to step in to help clean homeless RVs in Harbor Gateway

Marayah Hardy is one of the 14. She said living in the space is cramped.

"I’m just trying to stick it out for my mom and them," she said. "Every time it rains and stuff the roof leaks. I have to sleep on this bed and it leaks continuously on me. It's just too small in here." 

To keep someone from stealing it, a small motorbike commands most of the floor space, in between the two beds 14 people share, with an extension cord strategically held up by a pink teddy bear’s toes. 

The kitchen consists of a microwave underneath a bong, kids’ toys, hot sauce and garlic salt. 

"In order for us to make any food or anything we have to unplug everything like the TV and the phones and stuff and plug it in," said Hardy. 

At night Hardy said "you have to just watch all your stuff because they come past and they steal the kids bikes, their scooters and stuff from outside and you have them locked up. They cut the locks off. Somebody robbed a dispensary and stuff is burning down over here. So I told my mom, ‘no, we have to go.’"

When asked if their situation is better than a homeless shelter, Hardy admitted it wasnt, but said she doesn't qualify because she's on medication.

Inside this largest concentration of homeless RVs in mostly unincorporated LA County, the problems only continue to grow.

There have been four fires in the encampment just this week. 

Back in April, the area saw 20 homeless fires, all within one mile, in one week. 

Law enforcement and community leaders have tried to help but have only made a small dent. They cleaned up several streets at the end of May and have a big sweep planned for July. 

Voluntarily leading the charge is David Matthews, even though his community of Harbor Gateway only represents a small fraction of the encampment where he says roughly 3,500 homeless stretching down 30 blocks call "home." 

"I think the biggest thing is the families with all these children in the RVs," said Matthews. "Especially with the heat coming we have to get them off the street." Matthews estimated about 100 children live in the six-square-mile area.

Whether or not Hardy and her 13 roommates will soon have to park somewhere else, her message to outsiders looking in is that "we’re people just like you guys and we’re trying to get it together. Don't judge a book by its cover because you never know what someone's been through." 

She says through the constant crime, fires, fights and horror the kids go through, they’re just trying to survive.