VENICE, Calif. — The music has been playing from this spot right next to the Venice Boardwalk, by the same person, for nearly 20 years.
And for Vincent, who is a member of Venice Beach’s unhoused community, his music and art are how he earns a living.
“If they came down here and did some kind of sweep, and took all of my stuff, that means I’m broke — dead broke — and no way of making money", Vincent said.
When Vincent heard about a scheduled area cleanup taking place Tuesday that could potentially displace him, he cleaned his surroundings so things would look neat.
While no one has bothered him yet — if he’s asked to leave — he says he’d refuse and go to jail.
“Because I’m fighting for it. This thing (bass guitar) is like 500 dollars, you think I’m going to let them take it? That’s why I have it in my arm because they’ll pry it from my dead arm", Vincent said.
Homeless advocate groups gathered Tuesday morning on the boardwalk to oppose the displacement of people from the beach to the streets.
Local activist Sultan Sharrief was there to show his support for those threatened with displacement.
“We definitely didn’t want to see what happened at Echo Park happen here, these are our neighbors, these are our friends, this is our family", Sharrief said.
He’s one of many monitoring the encampment to help deescalate any situations that may arise.
But he approaches an area near the Venice Beach skatepark that has yellow tape around it, with heavy machinery that’s disposing someone’s tent and their belongings.
“Do you guys know if someone’s in there"?, Sharrief said.
No one is home, but homelessness is a complex issue, and this encampment — like others around the city — have ballooned in size in recent years.
The 2020 annual LA homeless count saw a 40% increase in homelessness, while the latest count was canceled due to COVID.
While Sharrief understands the need for the beach to be clean, it’s important that the unhoused are treated with dignity — including their belongings.
“It’s your whole being, it’s every little trinket you kept, it’s the old lovers gift that they gave you that might mean nothing to anyone else but it means a lot to you", Sharrief said..
Residents around the city including Venice are in angst over this growing problem.
To make matters worse, the fire department says homeless-related fires increased in 2020 by 82% since 2019.
But for those living an unhoused experience like Vincent, who has spent nearly two decades in this spot, he’s adamant that he’s staying put.
“Oh no, I ain’t going nowhere. I’m in public, and I’m doing this", Vincent said.
So problems persist in abundance compared to solutions.
And as the numbers of those living outdoors grows — the question remains, where will they go?