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Homeless Fed Up With Campground Filth, Threaten Walkout

August 6, 1987

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The city’s urban campground for the homeless, dubbed the ″Dust Bowl Hilton″ by inhabitants, has deteriorated into a lice-infested, garbage-strewn colony of hopelessness, activist Ted Hayes said Wednesday.

″We will pull out if conditions don’t get better,″ said Hayes, who accused Mayor Tom Bradley of betraying the city’s downtrodden by reneging on promises of adequate shelter, cleanliness and self-control.

″We will march out of here if we have to. We will go to Hancock Park where Mayor Bradley lives, we’ll go to Beverly Hills, Palos Verdes or Bel-Air,″ Hayes said.

Meanwhile, under the direction of Bradley, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency disclosed it was paying $1.5 million for 102 mobile homes to be set up citywide for the homeless.

But Hayes criticized the idea.

″They are going to put them (trailers) all over the city,″ Hayes said. ″People won’t be able to find the trailers and the people in the trailers won’t be able to find any social services. It won’t work.″

Hayes called conditions at the homeless campground deplorable, and invited the news media to visit Monday.

″We are going to point out the degrading conditions on the site and we are going to show how the mayor’s office betrayed us,″ he said. ″They reneged on showers, tents, toilets and sanitation. It is woefully inadequate.

″These people are losing hope.″

In addition to the dust from foot traffic and automobiles, the campground a mile east of City Hall is strewn with garbage, shopping carts and shallow trenches holding stagnant water, he said. The portable toilets are overflowing, he said, and there is no toilet paper.

″I feel just miserable here,″ said 10-year-old Lively Williams, one of 60 children living at the camp.

Bradley spokeswoman Ali Webb said the city was ″trying to provide someplace better than sleeping on the sidewalk in a cardboard box.″

″Our goal is to help these people out, out of that homelessness,″ she said. ″We have done everything including standing on our heads to help get those people out of their situation.″

The camp, set up on a vacant lot owned by the Southern California Rapid Transit District, was opened seven weeks ago after police decided to crack down on the growing sidewalk population of homeless people.

The original agreement called for the camp to be disbanded by Aug. 15, but Bradley this week proposed a 44-day extension that was expected to be approved Friday by the transit district and City Council.

Hayes conceded that the encampment was ″better than being on the curb.″

″To show you how bad Skid Row is, people are willing to live in this dust bowl,″ he said. ″It is the lesser of two evils.″

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