Last summer, the organization that would become Ktown for All was founded to fight for a Bridge Home Shelter in Koreatown and to counter the vitriolic voices against it. As the group evolved, we relied on the voices of our unhoused neighbors to guide our actions. From the beginning, our outreach was about building relationships and understanding the perspectives of people living on the streets of Koreatown.
One thing we heard and saw again and again was that the City’s programs to “clean up” encampments were (and continue to be) an utter failure. They fail to provide any meaningful connection to services. They fail to appease the angry housed residents whose complaints triggered the sweep. Instead, they violate the civil rights of our unhoused neighbors. Again and again, we heard stories and saw firsthand how the City conducts the cleanups.
We saw City employees giving confusing and contradictory orders, shouting derogatory comments, and generally disregarding the humanity of people experiencing homelessness.
This winter, when it seemed like it was raining nearly every other day, we saw sanitation crews continue to confiscate tents, even when they were people’s only protection from the elements.
We heard the panic in the voice of someone who had nowhere to sleep, and the relief when we were able to provide a tent.
In order to continue to connect with our unhoused neighbors, we knew we had to help them respond to these abuses. We attempted to file complaints, follow up on property losses, and talk to City employees and officials about these problems. Some people were sympathetic. Others dismissed things we saw firsthand as lies told to elicit sympathy.
So instead, we filmed. We shoved possessions into the trunks of cars to prevent them from getting taken by the city. We replaced items that were confiscated and trashed where we could.
Unfortunately, these problem practices will continue as long as the City’s laws make it a crime for people to be homeless in Los Angeles. Along with other organizations from across the city, we’ve made it clear to the Mayor’s office and the City Council that these practices are unhelpful, unjust, and unconstitutional.
After a year of going through the proper channels, it’s clear that the City has no plans to end the policies and practices that put people’s property and life in danger. That is why we’re suing the City to end the practices that violate the rights and threaten the safety of unhoused people in Koreatown and across the city.
The goal of our lawsuit is simple and straightforward: the City needs to stop violating the constitutional rights of our homeless neighbors. After months of advocacy, we believe the only route to achieving that goal is to go to court.
Nothing has changed about our advocacy for City action on shelters, housing, and services. If City and County officials choose to invest in these programs and demonstrate the urgency and commitment needed on homelessness, we’ll continue to uplift those efforts.
At the same time, our most fundamental commitment is to our neighbors. We are one of many plaintiffs in this lawsuit, including a number of Koreatown’s unhoused residents whose rights were violated. You’re likely to hear a lot of comments about this lawsuit and lawsuits like this one in the near future. We ask you to remember that at the core of these suits are stories of real trauma that the City inflicts on some of its most vulnerable residents. Joining this suit is about uplifting their stories and supporting them as they fight for their rights in court.
Please download the full complaint and see more information here.