Homeless encampment grows near Koreatown Church – NBC Los Angeles
The First Baptist Church of Los Angeles community fears that an uncontrolled homeless encampment will put an end to preaching and worship.
The encampment, at Westmoreland Avenue and Eighth Street in Koreatown, blocked the entrance to the century-old worship space and sidewalk access to the public, surveillance footage shows.
Scott Arnold, a pastor at the church, shared footage of a fire outside the church.
“It almost destroyed our office,” Arnold said. “The issue, of course, is the safety of our children, people, seniors and our neighborhood.”
People were afraid to use the building and didn’t rent it out for weddings and funerals, Arnold said.
He said efforts to get help from his local city council office were ignored and he blamed the encampment’s lack of enforcement on the dwindling congregation.
But councilman Gil Cedillo’s office told NBC4 they had worked with the church before and were unaware the postman wouldn’t deliver mail there.
“We understand that there are many concerns that need attention. We continue to partner with our homeless outreach team to provide services and resources throughout our municipal district in an effort to achieve a positive and equitable outcome for all involved,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Church pastors said they had tried to help people who lived around the church find a safer and more stable place to live – but more often than not – they say they fight against those who do not want to accept help.
“We care for people. We have God’s love for everyone,” Arnold said. “And yet there comes a time when, in order to be able to function, be viable, and sustain our lives, we have to set boundaries, deal with problems, and not be overwhelmed. And we have been overwhelmed.”