LOS ANGELES — The feelings among the homeless living on Venice Beach are very divided, with some ready and willing to accept housing assistance, and others determined to stay put.
Ahead of the July 4 deadline to clear the beach of encampments, two homeless resident told Spectrum News they already know the answer they will give when officials tell them to pack up.
What You Need To Know
- LA City council member Mike Bonin's outreach efforts include offering housing, some temporary hotel rooms, until more permanent housing is available through Project Roomkey
- In contrast, Sheriff Alex Villanueva issued a July 4 deadline for all encampments to be removed from the beach, or officers will start issuing citations to those who choose to stay
- In January of 2020, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority counted up to 2,000 unhoused people were living in the encampments along the boardwalk. Some estimate there are more today
- Outreach group St. Joseph Center says that as of June 30, 2 people have accepted and been moved into permanent housing
Nas, a 26-year-old transplant from Philadelphia, sings from her tent when she wants to lift her own spirits, but her voice carries out to pedestrians on the boardwalk. Those passing by often stop and look around for the source of the voice and smile when they see Nas and her piercing green eyes.
“The person that had stopped, and he looked back like…I was like wow, I touched him!” she said.
Nas said her name stands for "Never Angry Smile" and she lives up to the name.
Despite her beaming smile, she is very honest about the series of events that led to her living on the streets, which she said started when her mother moved her from Philadelphia to Atlanta. She did not fit in, and tensions grew in the family home.
Nas said she and her mother often fought, but it came to a dangerous crescendo when her stepfather became physical with her. After the second encounter, Nas said she had had enough.
“He lunged from the passenger seat, and he choked me. I was scratching at the door and the child lock was on,” said Nas.
Her face changed when she recounted the following part: “I felt my mom stop the car and get out and, it was just too much.”
Nas said when officials approach her to offer housing she is going to decline.
“What I’ve created here, this is my home,” she said.
Nas is not too worried about Sherriff Alex Villanueva’s threats to issue citations starting on July 4, because she has heard it before and nothing came of it. When pushed about her plan B, in case the citations do happen, she does not have one.
Johnny Beabes, or Johnny B, said his greatest desire is to get off the streets.
At 36, Beabes has been living on the streets of LA for four years, and he said his time being unhoused is wearing him down. If offered the chance to move into more permanent housing, Beabes said he would absolutely accept.
“If they gave me a place to stay and they helped me out with my income, yeah I would do that. I would definitely do that, because all I want to do is art and music anyway,” he said.
Beabes’ arms are covered with music notes and his art sits on a palette next to his cart. He cannot get through his interview with Spectrum News without yawning every few minutes, deeply. He apologized and said he does not sleep because he is worried about being harassed.
“I’m paranoid about this harassment and setup thing, so instead of just chilling and smoking weed, I’ve been staying up for….yeah, I’m tired,” he said.
While Beabes waits for his housing offer, Nas said she will continue to sing in front of her tent for her own peace and healing, and whoever else needs to hear it.