With a population of about 150,000 residents, Torrance is nearly always ranked as the safest community in Los Angeles County. Torrance is home to an ever-increasing number of families with children under the age of 18. In addition to generally safe streets, good schools are another reason why families with younger children gravitate to Torrance.
Torrance is also a shoreline community. The city features about a mile and a half of lovely beaches. In addition, the city has many, many tree-lined streets. In fact, the city keeps track of the number of trees lining its streets. Torrance is just under 100,000 at this time. The community also has 30 city parks.
Overall, the city parks are routinely enjoyed by the residents of Torrance. They prove to be great locations for families to spend time together.
During the course of the past several years, Torrance has started to encounter an increasing population of homeless people in the community. The increase in the number of homeless people has also resulted in an uptick in homeless encampments in Torrance. Some of these homeless encampments rise in the city’s parks.
Crime and Homeless Encampments in Torrance
Historically, and as has been noted, Torrance has garnered a reputation for safety and a low crime rate. As the homeless population in Torrance has increased, there has been some increase in criminal activity in areas at and around homeless encampments. The most common types of crimes that seem to be occurring with increasing regularity near homeless encampments include:
- Drug use
- Drug sales
- Public intoxication
- Public urination
Residents in neighborhoods where homeless encampments are sprung up are alarmed by the crime issue. The same holds true for business owners in those neighborhoods as well.
As is the case in many Southern California communities, these home and business owners in Torrance are pressing the city government to take more aggressive action to eradicate homeless encampments in the community, including in city parks.
On the other side of the proverbial fence are the homeless men, women, and children in the community and their advocates. They resist efforts to eliminate their ability to come together in encampments in Torrance. At the heart of their efforts is the reality that they have few options when it comes to their living situation.
Contributing to the issue is the fact that there are no homeless shelters within the Torrance city limits. Indeed, the nearest homeless shelters are located at least four or five miles from Torrance.
The typical homeless individual, not to mention a homeless family, maintain a fairly tight geographic location. For example, many homeless adults are employed. Thus, they attempt to stay as close to their jobs as possible. A person who has a job in Torrance will not be inclined to stay in a homeless shelter five or more miles away. Doing so would only complicate already challenging transport issues.
Health and Homeless Encampments in Torrance
In addition to the tension between people in homeless encampments and neighborhood residents surrounding crime issues, there is also conflict arising from health concerns. With no disrespect meant to residents of homeless encampments, the very presence of these camps raises health issues.
A prime health issue stems from human waste. The typical homeless encampment in Torrance lacks access to proper toilet facilities. As a consequence, people who live in Torrance homeless encampments are forced to relieve themselves out of doors. The build-up of feces and urine not only is highly unpleasant, but it also results in the presence of biohazardous pathogens – disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
Drug use is also an issue with a notable percentage of the population of a typical homeless encampment. The drug of choice for some of these individuals necessitates the use of a syringe and needle. In addition to needles being dangerously shared by drug abusers and addicts, these needles end up being recklessly discarded. The manner in which these needles are discarded can result in other people living in encampments, as well as residents in the surrounding neighborhood, being exposed to them.
This exposure can include the risk of harmful contact with these used needles. The risk includes possible infection by some type of biohazardous pathogen present in the blood or other bodily fluids that can be found on and in used needles.
With the increasing number of homeless people, the debate and tension associated with homeless encampments are expected to continue apace into the future. A comprehensive, coordinated strategy is a must in Torrance, as is the case elsewhere in California, to come up with affirmative solutions to the matter of homeless encampments in Torrance.