‘Operation Healthy Streets’ underway in Downtown LA

by City News Service
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LA Skyline

(AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Cleaning crews descended on a main stretch of Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles today as part of a stepped-up effort to clear the streets of debris while simultaneously reaching out to the homeless to offer medical and mental-health services.

Operation Healthy Streets will include a series of scrub downs in the one-square-mile Skid Row area. The effort  began along San Julian Street between Sixth and Seventh streets, with crews sweeping up garbage and debris on streets and sidewalks.

The City Council recently approved $3.7 million in funds for the program and expanded it to an every-other-month schedule. The city also partnered with Los Angeles County to combine the clean-up program with an effort to offer the homeless social services, medical care or mental-health services.

County agencies offered services including on-site health screenings, such as tuberculosis testing; Medi-Cal enrollment; medical transport; and placement in drug and alcohol treatment programs.

“We are very, very excited about it because this will give us one more tool to be able to get these individuals to get mental health treatment,” Irma Castaneda of the county Department of Mental Health told ABC7.

One man living on the street said he was grateful to see the cleanup crews.   “It gets filthy,” James Miller told the station. “Some of these guys – – feces on the road, all kinds of junk. They need to clean it.”

Organizers have been notifying the homeless of the effort, but they need to temporarily remove their belongings from the streets and sidewalks to make way for the cleanup.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which includes county and city officials, coordinates the Operation Healthy Streets clean-up and services outreach effort.

City Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes Skid Row, said a clean-up alone would deal with “a surface issue” but that to “uplift this community we need to address the overwhelming human need in the area.”

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