Nithya Raman, Kevin De León got more homeless people off the street. Will that sway voters?

Dakota Smith, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

Both said they would enforce Municipal Code 41.18, the city's anti-camping law, which allows police to regulate where people can sit and sleep and is opposed by Raman.

Weaver has also criticized Raman's handling of encampments around Cahuenga Boulevard and the Los Feliz Bridge Home shelter. Neighbors have complained about safety and sanitation at both locations.

He also wants a phased withdrawal from LAHSA. The agency, which is governed by a 10-member board, was "designed to fail," he said. "If you talk to any of our council members, they will tell you that they cannot give direct orders to this bureaucracy."

Raman has argued against a pullout from LAHSA, saying such a move would jeopardize federal funding meant to help the city's unhoused population.

Since taking office in 2020, De León has opened three tiny home villages — in Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Boyle Heights— converted two motels into temporary housing in El Sereno, and completed a 77-bed shelter for women and families in Boyle Heights.

More than 2,000 beds have been created in his district, according to his office.

De León said he pursued housing options even as he was the target of recall attempts, some of them driven by opposition to his push for interim homeless housing.

"I've built [homeless] housing in every part of my district and I've built different types of housing because there's no single solution to the crisis," De León said in an interview.

Tommy Newman, vice president of public affairs at United Way of Greater L.A., said that Northeast L.A. has historically lacked shelter options, so it's "good to see" De León's push to add beds.

On a recent morning, the council member inspected an alley in an industrial area of Boyle Heights where his office was seeking to get people into housing.

De León and Los Angeles Police Department Senior Lead Officer Johnny Altamirano described how thieves hire unhoused people living in tents to strip copper wire.


The thieves pay people with crystal meth, a cycle that keeps the unhoused people in this area "drugged up," said the councilman, who wants more L.A. County resources to help homeless residents battle drug addiction.

In campaign mailers, De León says homelessness declined in District 14, which takes in Skid Row and part or all of Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, Eagle Rock, El Sereno and Hermon.

The unofficial 2023 data from LAHSA show that the unsheltered population in the district dropped 7% last year compared with 2022.

De León spokesperson Pete Brown said LAHSA provided numbers to the council member's office showing a slight decrease in District 14's overall homelessness last year. LAHSA's Chapman said that data was imprecise.

Some of the seven people challenging De León in the primary point to LAHSA's 2022 data.

Unsheltered homelessness rose that year 38% compared with 2020, said one of the candidates, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles.

"Clearly, whatever the incumbent has been doing isn't enough," Santiago said.

Another candidate, tenant rights attorney Ysabel Jurado, proposes community resource centers to offer sanitation, healthcare and social services for unhoused people.


(Times staff writers David Zahniser and Doug Smith contributed to this report.)

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