Forum on San Pedro's homelessness problem draws hundreds

By Zohreen Adamjee

More than a thousand concerned citizens came out to Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro Thursday to see how city leaders would help with the growing homelessness problem.

In the last year, the homeless count in the San Pedro area jumped by a couple hundred to about 1,500 people.

Richard Castle was homeless for twenty-nine years and says he's seen what the numbers don't show.

"A lot of new faces I've never seen before here...never. It just eats at your soul," said Castle.

And efforts from the community haven't significantly helped.

Norahila Vela with Helping the Homeless in Need group started building four by six foot tiny houses two months ago.

"The tiny houses were a transition. A bridge," said Vela.

But two days later, Vela says the city told her to stop.

Councilmember Buscaino said Thursday night that the tiny homes were a noble idea, but with a big flaw.

"Whenever you have these encampments. It's a recipe for disaster. In fact, you're contributing to the quality of life to these individuals in a negative way," said Buscaino.

He says San Pedro's homelessness problem isn't just their responsibility.

"We're finding that our neighboring cities like Rancho Palos Verdes, Torrance, Lomita, Carson are not stepping up, and they need to do more.....they know we have the services here. It's not fair for this community to be the epicenter for social services," said Buscaino.

His big announcement Thursday was that he had gotten funding for a street team to help with the homelessness.

"It's a partnership with the mental health department, and LAPD on the ground working with these cases to provide the resources they need. We're also here to celebrate we have 311 housing units that we're going to help house as well," said Buscaino.

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