April 16, 2024

Beverly Hills is the stomping ground of the Hollywood elite, but spiraling homeless in Los Angeles means that vagrant encampments risk spilling into the hallowed area.

Santa Monica Boulevard is the dividing line between the Hills – where the median house price is $3.5million – and nearby Beverly Grove where clusters of tents have sprung up amid the department stores and green parklands.

Photos taken on Tuesday reveal tarpaulins, shopping carts, mattresses and loose bedding next to busy junctions and on the sidewalks of the wealthy suburb. 

The scenes were captured along San Vicente Blvd, near the upscale Beverly Center shopping mall where celebrities including Victoria Beckham, Paris Hilton and Hailey Bieber have all been known to shop. 

Homeless encampments are becoming increasingly common in Beverly Hills, one of LA’s most affluent neighborhoods

The median house price in Beverly Hills is around $3.5million, yet luxury houses are now juxtaposed settlements of tents. Pictured is a homeless encampment in Beverly Hills on April 11, 2023 

Tents are pictured scattered along the sidewalk in Beverly Hills, along with bicycles wheelchairs and loose bedding

An estimated 40,000 people are homeless in the city of Los Angeles, which has a population of nearly 4 million people. 

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority estimated there were around 70,000 people experiencing homelessness in the wider Los Angeles County in 2022, a four percent increase since 2020.

In January the affluent Sherman Oaks neighborhood, just north of Beverly Hills made national headlines after three people died on its streets in just one week. 

There are no certain statistics on homelessness in Beverly Hills, but in a report seen by local paper the Beverly Hills Courier, city manager Nancy Hunt-Coffey wrote that it ‘seems to be increasing’.

Last year a number of residents in the neighborhood gave testimony to the city council on their experiences of homelessness as part of a discussion to address the escalating issue.

‘Many of my peers are considering moving because they consider the situation hopeless,’ said Amy Conroy, who said she is afraid to let her children play outside. 

Recently elected Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass ran a campaign on claims she was going to address the growing homeless crisis in Los Angeles.

She tweeted about the Sherman Oaks deaths at the time, writing: ‘This is exactly why I’ve declared a state of emergency. Successfully confronting the homelessness crisis is a matter of life and death.’

The leading cause of death among homeless people in Los Angeles is drug overdoses, other leading causes include murder and suicide. 

According to Beverly Hills City Manager, Nancy Hunt-Coffey, the amount of homelessness in the area is increasing

In the center of junction in Beverly Hills, tents and tarpaulins have been set up by some of LA’s homeless population

Between 2016 and 2021, fentanyl overdose deaths in Los Angeles County increased more than ten-fold, between 2019 and 2020, they increased 149 percent from 462 to 1,149, and were up 31 percent in 2021 to 1,504.  

Speaking about the homeless deaths in Sherman Oaks, Ken Craft of advocacy group Hope of the Valley, told ABC Los Angeles: ‘What we do see, unfortunately, is an increase in fentanyl on our streets which has caused a higher level of overdoses.’

Bass told a conference in January that affluent residents in her city don’t care about homeless people and just want to see them moved on or arrested. 

She said she intends to get over 17,000 homeless people into housing in her first year through a mix of interim and permanent facilities.

Similarly California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last month that the state is hoping to cut homelessness by 15 percent in just two years and committed to providing 500 small homes in the city to achieve that. 

‘In California we are using every tool in our toolbox – including the largest-ever deployment of small homes in the state – to move people out of encampments and into housing,’ Newsom said.

‘The crisis of homelessness will never be solved without first solving the crisis of housing – the two issues are inextricably linked.’ 

A homeless person is seen napping on a patch of grass in a park on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Crescent Dr.

A homeless man sits on a public bench in Beverly Hills on April 11, 2023

Some residents of wealthy Beverly Hills told the city council that they were considering leaving as they didn’t feel safe allowing their children to play outside

Los Angeles city council member Joe Buscaino has complained that kids in his city have to ‘step over needles’ and ‘human waste’ on their way to school due because of those crashing out in residential areas.

‘No child in America should be afraid to walk to school, and what we have found in Los Angeles is kids are afraid to walk to school,’ the Democrat said in a television interview late last year.

‘They tell their parents they have to step over needles, human waste, and deal with individuals unfortunately suffering from psychotic behavior – right next to their playground area.’

Initiatives have sprung up to help deal with the crisis, including CICRLE, active in West Hollywood, which aims to move individuals experiencing homelessness off the streets and into housing.