Residents said Los Angeles City officials ignored their repeated complaints about the homeless encampment in a South LA alley, until there was a fire last Thursday that spread to several nearby houses.
Since that fire, it appears most of the homeless people left the alley near Woodlawn Avenue and King Boulevard, except for one woman.
Following the blaze, which neighbors say started in a shed that had been built by a homeless man, LA City Councilman Curren Price met directly with the Perez family Tuesday. The family lost everything when the fire spread from the alley to the rented home.
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"We want to make sure we're doing all we can to assist the family. I know the outpouring from the public has been heartwarming," Price said.
The family is struggling with the realization they are now homeless too. Donations from the public have been pouring in.
The three children went to stay with their grandmother, while the parents slept in their car.
They refused the city's offer for a voucher to go to a motel because they were afraid looters would steal the few belongings they have left.
The Los Angeles Fire Department gave them tents to provide temporary shelter until the family can move into another rental property being provided by the landlord.
"A lot of people have been helping us and I'm really happy a lot of people are acknowledging the problem we have, and I thank them because it's really helpful," said 14-year-old Dayana Perez.
The city is sending an outreach team to offer services to the one homeless woman who remains in the alley. Councilman Price is investigating why the neighborhood's complaints about the homeless encampment were ignored.
"We get a lot of complaints. We're always trying to be responsive to situations. If we weren't able to identify this as a problem at the time — we should have," Price said.
Even though it appears most of the homeless have left, and abandoned their belongings, there are protocols the city has to follow before they can remove them, such as posting a notice warning the owner they will be taken. They're in the process of doing that now.
So far, more than $5,000 has been donated on the family's GoFundMe page.
If you wish to help the Perez family, you can do so at their GoFundMe account here.