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A homeless woman and Angeleno Heights residents are left waiting for help

Mar 22, 2018

Angeleno Heights street scene

By LUCY GUANUNA

ANGELENO HEIGHTS — Police have been called as have mental health workers. All to no avail. That has left the people who live on the 900 block of W. Kensington Road to wonder why a homeless woman who has been sleeping on porches and sometimes arguing with people has not received any help.

“There really seems to be a gap in services available, and it’s been frustrating to see that there’s no support for her,” said resident Jovi Schnell.

For a few weeks now Schnell and other residents have reported seeing the same homeless woman in her mid-to-late 20’s walking up and down the street lined with the Craftsman and Victorian-era homes and apartments that this neighborhood is famous for.

At one point the woman set up an encampment on the porch of a vacant house. After neighbors called the police, the woman left the porch. But she later returned.

The superintendent of an apartment building on the block, Nune Arnautovic, found blankets and makeup in a vacant unit after he was notified by his tenants that the door to the unit was left open. As Arnautovic moved the belongings out of the unit, the homeless woman confronted him, insisting that it was her apartment. He called 911, but officers never showed up, and he was instructed to call another number.

“She didn’t do anything wrong in the apartment, she just wanted to sleep,” said Arnautovic. “I feel bad for her.”

On a recent weekend afternoon, Schnell contacted police when she noticed the woman walking from door to door, jiggling doorknobs. She was told there was nothing police could do if the woman was not a threat to herself or others. She then reached out to the L.A. County Department of Mental Health Services, but their offices were closed on Sunday.

“A neighbor told me she did this in another part of the neighborhood last year,” said Schnell. She said she has noticed a lack of homeless services available in her neighborhood compared to Downtown’s Skid Row.

As homelessness has increased by 75% countywide over the last six years, the homeless have gone deeper into residential areas like Angeleno Heights looking for safe places to sleep.

“With the transient situation that’s going on right now and with the encampments everywhere, we’re basically hands off as long as the [homeless people] are not violating any laws, per the mayor’s office,” said Officer Mora (who declined to provide her first name) with the LAPD Rampart Division.

If a person qualifies for a mental health evaluation, officers are instructed to call  the LAPD’s Mental Evaluation Unit, which works with a program to provide referrals, intervention and placement in mental facilities for those in need, Mora said. But it’s up to the officer to begin that process.

“If an officer is responding to calls and they’re not doing anything [with the homeless woman], she’s obviously not meeting the standards for a mental evaluation and hold,” said Mora in reference to the homeless woman on Kensington. “There’s a lot of transients and they all have some sort of drug or mental issue. We can’t take every one of them off the street.”

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