The Venice Beach boardwalk is pretty much clear of homeless encampments

Apparently, the circus that is Los Angeles' homeless outreach and service programs aligned well enough to cooperate, and maintained their resolve long enough to find housing for most of the folks who had staked out a very visible shantytown on the Venice Beach Boardwalk.

The real heroes of this effort are the sanitation workers who had to comb approximately 2 miles of the beachfront tourist district, removing mountains of rat-infested, packed with used hypodermic needles, random flammable and explosive materials, collections of trash. Frequently the owners of these piles of detritus screamed at them, regardless of multiple and frequent warnings and reminders from Park Rangers, homeless outreach councilors, LA Sheriff's, and Police that overnight camping would not be allowed after July 30th.

$5 million dollars was allocated by the City of Los Angeles to find temporary housing and 'guaranteed' pathways to long-term solutions for the several hundred people who had set up camp along the quirky and bohemian beachfront. Initially, no one, long-term residents or unhoused, believed the effort would amount to much. An early rush of folks either moving to other places, as neighboring Santa Monica complained, or taking advantage of now-available services depopulated the area by what appeared to be a third, gave some hope the program would work!

Another third of the population simply picked up their stuff and moved 100' out onto the sand.

What appeared to be happening was now a program of concentration.

'Zones' were set up and each week unhoused people were pushed towards the center of the commercial district along the beach, boardwalk, and now on the sand proper. Each week the people who could be reached or convinced to accept public assistance did.

Each week the group of folks remaining compressed into a smaller space, with fewer and fewer rational folks around to act as a buffer. Communities that formed were dissolved. The plan seemed to be "keep pushing problematic people closer and closer together, that'll drive them to take services."

Things became more violent and more unhinged. Daytime walks thru the final zones were simply dangerous. Some people had lived here for a year or more and were deep into their own stories about why they should be permitted to stay indefinitely. It seemed even more fights, arson and general mayhem ensued.

Soon only the unconvinceable remained. Folks who need other sorts of care to be gotten thru to, or just need permanent care, and folks who just didn't want to go.

With a lot of patience, respect, and effort the social assistance teams were able to find places for almost 200 people. Probably, that many people were also simply displaced, and shuffled elsewhere.

Walking the boardwalk this weekend was an amazing thing, however. Venice was at maximum Venice and it felt safe to walk around during the day and night with only normal levels of urban alertness.

Just a block or so away, however, begins a swath of 1000s more people in need of housing, food, and health care. In Los Angeles alone there are estimated to be 66 thousand or more folks out on the streets, or living in cars.

As the eviction moratorium has expired we can expect to see that number increase.