May 10, 2023
Dear Council District 5,
We are the Jasmine Community, a group of residents living on Jasmine Ave. in Los Angeles. Yes, we are unhoused, and many of us have been waiting on unfulfilled promises of permanent housing for years, with a promise of housing that was to be fulfilled in November 2022, but has yet to be opened.
We have been told by service providers with the city to stay in this location or risk losing access to these housing opportunities, however, on May 18th CD5 [the Council District 5 office] has threatened to forcibly displace us without meeting any of our basic needs. This displacement will harm us, especially since nobody has anything to offer us.
We did not go out on our own to find opportunities because we were told we were getting housing, and we were told not to move because the service providers said if they can’t find us on the day the housing is ready, we will lose our spots. Forcing us to move on May 18th makes no sense. We are humbly asking for your help in our situation to get housing.
We’ve been working with these corporations — LAHSA, SJC, PATH — and they’ve given us dates and said things would happen and then they don’t come through.
We’re all on lists, but none of our options are open: Sunburst, Safe Parking, the tent camp on Jefferson. We were planning to have a home to celebrate Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then Spring, and yet Sunburst and Safe Parking still are not open, so why are you making us move?
For years, politicians and city workers have promised us housing with programs like Project Roomkey, A Bridge Home Shelter, Section 8, among others. These failed programs come and go, and yet we remain. We remain unhoused, and we continue to be harassed by LAPD and Culver City PD. We are often not safe due to your failures because we are never listened to.
We have even been told that the LAPD will build warrants to be able to arrest us and run our serial numbers on our vehicles. They come in uniform and in plain clothes. They do this because when you criminalize us with 56.11 (which displaced us from our original spot by Smart and Final) and 41.18, the police have even more power to harass, intimidate, and threaten us, catch and release us, and hold guns to our heads.
We also continue to live with the failure of this city to address the real needs of people living outside. We are not service-resistant, we are service-experienced, and our collective experience is that these programs have not led to housing, let alone jobs, healthcare, or any other wraparound services that have been promised. We have been desperately trying to work with city organizations to gain access to permanent housing, but things keep getting postponed, and the housing is never ready. Many of us are forced to cycle through trauma as a result.
On Saturday, May 6th, our friend Jesse lost his life waiting for this housing. These failed programs kill, and displacement will hurt us even more. We want house keys, not handcuffs.
We understand that this is an emergency. We live with the danger and harassment and fight for survival every day. But moving to 3801 Keystone — the location that CD5 is pressuring our community to move to — will not fix any of the existing problems.
This will, in fact, introduce many new problems and exacerbate existing ones, so what is the point? Nothing is being offered besides more pain, stress, and suffering for our community. Moving our RVs will lead to a rat race of having to move every day. During the hours of 2 a.m to 6 a.m., where are we supposed to go? We can’t get up early and find a new place every day. This is not possible for us, financially or physically. Even those of us whose RVs run would go broke having to move every 72 hours.
Give us funding to move to a location where we can be, don’t tow us to a junkyard and a demolition site. Until there is somewhere for us to be, and until you can help us move in a humane manner, we should not be moved. If we can’t afford housing here, where many of us have grown up, at least we have carved out a life and a community for ourselves.
It does not have to be this way.
We are human beings deserving and worthy of care, dignity and respect. We know what we need. Listen to us. Talk to us. Learn from us. We want a chance at housing, and we need time. We don’t want to be harassed or forced to move to a location that does not work for us. Nothing About Us Without Us.
The Jasmine Community would like to propose alternate solutions:
- Do not force us to move without our housing options being open. We want to move to housing, not to another site that is even more dangerous to us.
- Do not tow our vehicles. This would harm us more than you know.
- Help us work to store our items, but don’t do it all in one day. We need time just like anyone else who has to move.
- We want written agreements. We have been lied to and tricked and ignored for so long. If you say you’re going to do something, it has to show.
- Do not continue to displace us and make LAPD’s harassment of us even more dangerous.
- Give us time and treat us like human beings.
We don’t need anymore studies, we need housing. Please work with us, not against us.
Jasmine Ave. Community