via Palms Unhoused Mutual Aid

August 18, 2023

Dear City of Los Angeles,
Mayor Karen Bass,
City and County officials,

We demand that the City of Los Angeles open up ALL public buildings, hotels, libraries, public transportation hubs, parking structures, recreation centers, public school gyms and facilities, universities, council field offices, and Los Angeles City Hall to shelter unhoused people through the duration of the Category 4 Hurricane that is set to make landfall this weekend. There is precedent for this type of action being taken, and we know this will save lives. We demand the city also identify churches and indoor venues that will be opening as storm shelters.

We are doing everything we can to help unhoused neighbors prepare for this storm, including distributing tents, tarps, flashlights, building platforms to get people off the ground, making evacuation plans, and helping our communities rebuild after the storm. We are working with dozens of other mutual aid efforts across the city because we can’t expect aid to come from the same government that allows 6 unhoused people to die every day on the streets of LA.

Unhoused people living in tents and in their cars are the frontline of multiple, overlapping crises caused by governments and wealthy elites. People are doing their very best to survive, but it will be rough, and we must be quick to organize our own emergency response. We are especially concerned for elderly and disabled people, and those who have been banned from public areas through laws like LAMC 41.18. People living in cars and RVs are also at greater risk in flash flood conditions, especially near flood channels. Parking restrictions should not be enforced at this time, and public transportation should be made free for those who need a way to travel to higher ground quickly.

When the City of LA passed a new version of LAMC 41.18 in 2021, which banned “sitting, lying, and sleeping” along many public sidewalks in LA, many people fled these areas or risked arrest. People now live in tunnels, in storm drains, in cracks along the LA river, and even underground. We are especially concerned that we will not be able to reach people in these areas to warn them and help our communities prepare. The city has been taking people’s shelters, tents, tarps, and supplies weekly, including this week ahead of the storm, making them especially vulnerable. Our government is responsible for this. These actions did nothing but create the perfect storm for putting even more lives at risk. We know that whether this storm hits as a hurricane or as a tropical storm, it will be deadly to our neighbors outside.

Unhoused people are at risk of losing their shelter and belongings including life-saving medications and vital documents. They are also in danger of contracting water borne illnesses, injuries, further displacement and death. We implore you to take action on these critical concerns as soon as possible.

Our city depends on your commitment to properly serve ALL of its residents especially in an emergency such as this. Our experiences have taught us that we cannot depend on the city to show basic care and concern for the lives and wellbeing of unhoused residents and must be willing to act when governments fail to do so. We call on you to take this opportunity to take necessary action outlined in this letter and protect our city’s most vulnerable.

When will the city and county share these plans? We await your response.


Aetna Street Solidarity
Palms Unhoused Mutual Aid
Good Mischief
R.V. T.V.
South Bay Mutual Aid Care Club
J-Town Action & Solidarity
All Power Free Clinic
Free Food Collective
Mar Vista Voice
People’s City Council
Fairfax Mutual Aid
The Valley of Change
KTown For All
LA Street Care
South Bay Abolitionist Collective
We the Unhoused
Venice Justice Committee
Ananya Roy, Professor & Director, UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality & Democracy

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