New Daily News Story on Homeless in Tujunga Wash

Neighbors, officials decry camps in Big Tujunga Wash

By Melissa Pamer, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/29/2011 07:36:53 PM PST
Updated: 12/29/2011 08:04:04 PM PST

Joe Barrett stands outside the camp of a homeless man who lives in the wash. Barrett is a local Sunland resident who is trying to help homeless while at the same time trying to keep the environmentally sensitive area clean. Homeless encampments in the Big Tujunga Wash have moved into more remote areas after recent cleanup attempts. Residents in the area are concerned about violence, open fires and drug use in the urban area that is close to homes. (John McCoy / Staff Photographer)

For years, the homeless have gravitated toward the open expanse, the privacy and the quiet – not to mention the remove from the law – offered in the Big Tujunga Wash.

On the edge of the Angeles National Forest, the Sunland wash is a unique, ecologically sensitive area that floods during rains, harboring rare plant and animal species. It’s also dotted with tents, tarps, abandoned shopping carts and copious amounts of trash.

“At night, you can hear women screaming. You can hear couples fighting,” said Joe Barrett, a local resident who often hikes in the wash and encourages those camping there to enter supportive housing.

Since police last year cleared out shelters that had been built near the Foothill Boulevard and 210 Freeway bridges, some homeless camps have moved up the wash into an area referred to as “Uptown,” Barrett said. That has coincided with a shifting outreach strategy to address what some say is worsening homelessness in the northeast San Fernando Valley.

“It’s an ongoing challenge for us,” said Cindy Cleghorn, a member of the Sunland- Tujunga Neighborhood Council. “We have people who are in the wash who we cannot get out of the wash because of their drug addiction or mental status, and they just do not want to leave. … It’s a hiding place.”

Read the rest of the story HERE!

UPDATE; KABC 7 has a report HERE.

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1 Comment

  1. This is so true. I see the homeless in the free food lines at the church and some of them are obviously very high or drunk. I asked recently how they could afford drugs and alcohol when they don’t work. Someone told me that they often use a fixed address for their SSI checks and use that money for the drugs and alcohol they seek. They also collect bottles and cans and bed for money. Then there’s the petty theft issue… It is a huge problem. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get them into program where they got clean and sober and contributed in some way to the betterment of the community?

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