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Homeless encampments cleared in Harbor City

April 7, 2011 |  1:52 pm

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L.A. County sheriff's personnel led an effort Thursday to clear and clean up homeless encampments in the Harbor City area.

The cleanup endeavor near the intersection of Lomita Boulevard and Vermont Avenue was part of an initiative launched in October 2010 to provide housing and other social and health-related services to homeless people in the Harbor City area, authorities said.

County agencies involved in the campaign included personnel from the sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing Services, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and the Department of Public Health.

Sheriff’s officials were not immediately available for comment on the outcome of Thursday’s cleanup.

Anna Velasquez and Richard Cunningham were the only two individuals found squatting in a camp under the 110 Freeway. They had been sleeping on an old mattress under a tarp surrounded with trash, discarded furniture and junk.

“I have mental problems … sickness,” Velasquez, 41, said later in a phone interview.

She said she had spent 18 months in prison for trying to cash a check belonging to someone else.

She was released a year ago, but couldn’t find anywhere to go — at least nowhere that would accommodate her and her German shepherd, Pappaz.

So she found herself under the freeway camping with Cunningham, an old friend.

“I’m off parole…I’m doing good now,” Velasquez said. “I’m not hapless, I’m homeless.”

She said being moved from her camp under the freeway was “scary.”

“Where do you go when you don’t have nowhere to go?” Velasquez said.

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-- Christina House in Harbor City and Ann M. Simmons

Photo: On Thursday, Anna Velasquez, 41, looks for her belongings at a homeless encampment underneath the 110 Freeway in Harbor City, where she has lived with her dog and a friend for several months. Credit: Christina House/For The Times

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