East Lakewood, city's leading homeless zone
Several large homeless encampments have been erected across the area.
NOTE: This is Part 1 of a 4-part series of homelessness in Lakewood, California.
Fort Homeless. Shanty Town, Lakewood. Transient Campground. These are just some of the descriptive names of illegal homeless encampments in and around East Lakewood.
The Lakewood Populist has created color-coded maps for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Another map analyzing the latest three-year average was also created.
Click the underlined links above to see the interactive maps, which show what neighborhoods were most affected by homelessness for those years.
The maps contain red icons indicating the location of homeless encampments, complete with pictures, descriptive names and detailed numbers about what structures the homeless in each neighborhood used for living quarters. These included tents, makeshift shelters (crudely built structures), cars, vans, campers/Rvs, etc.
The maps were based on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), which serves most municipalities within Los Angeles County, and its annual homeless count. The data broke down its information via housing tracts and sometimes it further divided housing tracts into smaller segments.
At times, the homeless count reports were incomplete so the Lakewood Populist made use of a LAHSA data map tool that appeared up to date.
The homeless count for 2021 was nixed due to Wuhan Virus fears.
East Lakewood, the motherlode of homeless encampments
Data showed the housing tract around the 605 Freeway and Carson Street as being the city’s worst affected homeless area. Three homeless encampments have been documented in this housing tract alone, including one on the east side of the freeway that has three or more makeshift shelters, otherwise known as shanties.
This Shanty Town is growing as more makeshift shelters have been documented being erected in mid-May. A large pile of trash, next to a Lakewood residence, also is building up on the site. Homeless inhabitants have been seen walking in and out of the site, as well as watching either a TV or a tablet.
On the west side of the freeway is a large red tent—complete with chairs and a barbecue grill—that is inhabited by at least one man with a pitbull, photos showed. Another, evidently newly-acquired green tent that was erected in mid-May, but was shortly afterwards taken down.
Down the street, next to the 7-11 store at Pioneer Boulevard, is a longtime homeless encampment where many gather and sleep. The Lakewood Populist has witnessed homeless at the area taking over the sidewalk by sleeping on it and erecting a tarp across it. Homeless have also been seen sitting in front of a nearby mechanic shop.
Homeless routinely gather across Pioneer Boulevard at the 76 gas station in the backside parking lot late at night, sometimes getting visitors.
The whole area is a popular panhandling zone. On Thursday night passing by, five homeless were seen around 8 p.m., not including those inside the Shanty Town.
One resident referred to the area as a disgusting meth area.
The two housing tracts inside neighboring Hawaiian Gardens were also found to have routine homelessness. Normally, these two tracts—highlighted purple on the Lakewood Populist’s maps—had between 4 to 10 homeless persons each. However, these housing tracts in 2019 had 45 and 25 homeless, respectively.
Fort Homeless area, nude streaker and wandering homeless
A homeless encampment featuring what appears to be a flag and solar panels with wires leading to an underground storm drain sits along the 605 Freeway’s southbound on-ramp at Del Amo Boulevard. Being north of Del Amo Boulevard, this area is part of Cerritos, being adjacent to Lakewood’s border.
At the northbound off-ramp, another homeless encampment was documented with a cooler and a storage container. This is within Lakewood’s borders but recently got cleaned up sometime between Wednesday and Thursday.
Just up the street from this area have been repeated reports of a person walking naked to the Starbucks and Del Taco stores. Homeless near these encampments have also been witnessed sitting on the sidewalk in the middle of the day, staring into the sun. Another time, late at night, a transient-looking woman walked into traffic at Pioneer and Del Amo boulevards.
Coyote Creek Homeless Den & an Arco gas station
Another large encampment was documented at Lakewood’s border with La Palma at the intersection of Coyote Creek and Del Amo Boulevard. A large makeshift shelter was erected under the old railroad bridge on the La Palma side, while scattered trash and a bicycle were found littering the Lakewood portion of the bridge.
Homeless also take naps at the public grass area leading up to the bridge.
The Arco gas station at Norwalk Boulevard and Centralia Street is a popular hangout for the homeless. Many times they sleep near the Arco’s front entrance and ask customers for money. The Arco has put up signs instructing customers not to give transients any money.
A few years ago, a young woman would get into fights with various, transient-looking men at the station.
Homeless also habitually gather at the bus stop in front of the Arco gas station, periodically leaving there to ask customers for money.
Homeless making camp next to homes
One of the more troubling incidents is that of a homeless, Van Man as the person is labeled in the Lakewood Populist’s 3-year average map, taking over a portion of the sidewalk near Bloomfield Avenue and Lemming Street. This person has evidently put up a bench used when making conversation with visitors.
The Lakewood Populist has also witnessed or heard reports from residents of homeless living in vehicles in East Lakewood next to homes with children. Some of these incidents don’t appear to have made it into LAHSA’s homeless count data.