Oppose the Proposed Sweep of Un-housed from Toriumi Plaza in Little Tokyo

Project Room Key is not a solution to the crisis of housing affordability. Repeal Ordinance 41.18 and stop the criminalization of un-housed Los Angeles civilians.

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March 13, 2022

Progressive Asian Network for Action (PANA) opposes the current plans by Los Angeles City to sweep unhoused residents from Little Tokyo’s Toriumi Plaza and to encircle the public space with fencing by March 17.

Nationally, PANA believes that real long term solutions to the housing crisis can only happen with a massive green jobs program centered on low-income housing and infrastructure. PANA also supports efforts to accelerate complimentary local initiatives to address the housing affordability crisis, such as the establishment of Pubic Banking, transparency regarding where Measure HHH funding has gone and a repeal of measures criminalizing the un-housed (Ordinance 41.18).

Sweeps that confiscate and destroy un-housed peoples’ personal belongings and offerings of temporary shelter such as Project Room Key (term-limited to 90 days and operated with draconian restrictions) are not the solution to the widespread crisis of lack of safe, truly-affordable housing in the city.

Elected officials must be held to a higher standard than taking measures that criminalize residents living in public spaces. Furthermore, fencing off public spaces is a non-solution that contributes to the overall degradation of our communities. Forcible removal of houseless residents from one part of the city to another, and limiting proposals to ones that restrict personal freedom only creates more problems, including the exacerbation of mental and physical trauma and disruption of supportive community relationships.

The proposed sweep is part of the dedication by LA City Council to avoid moving towards permanent solutions to the lack of adequate housing for the un-housed. LA City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas introduced a substitute motion on June 30, 2021 to pass policies to criminalize homelessness in Los Angeles, Ordinance 41.18. The law targets the simple acts of sitting, sleeping, and lying in public. It is a law that purposefully targets people who are poor and unhoused. Concilmember De Leon, the current City Council representative of District 14, which included Little Tokyo, supported the passage of 41.18 to codify the criminalization of un-housed people in Los Angeles. This law should be repealed.

Councilmember Kevin De Leon, the current City Council representative for City Council District 24 has ordered the sweep to be completed by March 17. We call upon him to do better for the sake of Little Tokyo and the City as a whole. Let’s move to real solutions, not sweeps that

merely exacerbate the problem and cause harm to residents of the city.

Progressive Asian Network for Action (PANA)