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The Eviction of the Unhoused Population Ahead of Major Events

As the Superbowl nears, the city of Los Angeles has begun making preparations for the anticipated increase in tourism. However, as is for any other major event, the city has begun evacuating major homeless camps surrounding the stadium. This norm of evacuating large homeless settlements for major events communicates a negative stigma of the unhoused population.

In anticipation of what is arguably the largest sporting event in the United States, the city of Los Angeles has begun preparations to ensure the best experience for its’ tourists. From renovation to adding more seats, ensuring parking, and other facilities, the hosting city is tasked with a laundry list of to-dos. 

And as the pattern shall predict, another item on the to-do includes evacuating homeless camps surrounding the event spaces being used for the event.  

The act of evacuating the unhoused community within a considerable distance of event spaces exposes a problematic pattern in how cities handle the increasing number of people experiencing homelessness. Similar to last year’s Superbowl, teams of social workers are seen approaching unhoused individuals around the area and redirecting them elsewhere. A 2016 ‘Bloomberg’ article calls this act “hiding the homeless.” Although insensitive in its language, the article does pinpoint the literal act cities engage in when evacuating the unhoused during large events. However, when asked about their actions, city officials say to be assisting the unhoused population and encouraging them to take advantage of their other services. In addition to these teams, the NFL also claimed to have donated an estimated 13 million dollars to anti-poverty charities during the 2016 game to aid the unhoused community of Califorina’s Bay Area. 

While the two sets of actions are commendable and have the potential to be impactful, the problem arises, when these efforts stop and are also contained only to the specific areas of interest. The additional spaces created to house those facing homelessness should be created more frequently as well as the interest shown by the cities. 

Considering that California ranks first for having the highest population of the unhoused community, it’s disappointing to see how the local government treats some of the most vulnerable in their community.

Understandably, there is much work to be done and understood to find lasting solutions for the homelessness problem. However, when cities participate in acts such as hiding the unhoused, they perpetuate the most negative stigmas surrounding those facing homelessness. 

Resources:

Sources: https://www.newsweek.com/los-angeles-superbowl-just-latest-homeless-evictions-major-event-1676237

Small, J. (2022, February 4). Los Angeles Superbowl just latest in homeless evictions for major event. Newsweek. Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://www.newsweek.com/los-angeles-superbowl-just-latest-homeless-evictions-major-event-1676237 

Vekshin, A., & Wittenstein, J. (2016). San Francisco Plays Hide the Homeless. Bloomberg Businessweek, 4461, 24–27.

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