Tensions rise in Pomona over homelessness plan

A homeless man in Pomona
A homeless man in Pomona

Pomona officials recently approved $1.7 million in spending to buy land for a temporary shelter with 175 beds amidst growing tensions over homelessness in the area.

Critics say the political discourse on the issue had been dictated primarily by residents and shop owners who complain about encampments and loiterers, the Los Angeles Times reported. Its detractors complain that the shelter is a way for officials to more strictly enforce an anti-encampment policy, which was recently put on hold because of a lawsuit.

Last spring, L.A. pro bono law firm Public Counsel sued Pomona on behalf of several street dwellers, alleging that the city unlawfully confiscated their personal property, including identification and medications.

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The city subsequently agreed, in a settlement, to stop seizing homeless people’s belongings as well as suspend its anti-camping enforcement until there were storage facilities and a bed for every homeless resident.

Proponents of the shelter argue that the needs of residents cannot be ignored.

Though I want to be compassionate for the homeless as much as I can, who is speaking out for the residents, the voters, the taxpayers?” Pomona Council member Rubio Gonzalez said in January, when city lawmakers voted on the homeless plan, dubbed “A Way Home.” [LAT]Cathaleen Chen