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Inside the private security forces patrolling California’s homeless

Illustration by Adriana Heldiz, CalMatters; iStock
Illustration by Adriana Heldiz, CalMatters; iStock

On the next Your Call's Media Roundtable, we'll discuss a new CALMatters investigation, which details how governments, nonprofits, and businesses are increasingly turning to hired guards to triage homelessness. This opens a new front in the state's housing crisis, one ripe for violence and civil rights issues, but thin on accountability and state oversight.

More than a dozen recent legal proceedings and public contract disputes reviewed by CalMatters suggest that rather than ensuring safety, guards can compound already dangerous and chaotic situations.

According to CalMatters, shelter residents in multiple Southern California cities have alleged in lawsuits that they were raped or sexually assaulted by shelter guards, including a Los Angeles case where a guard was sentenced to prison after a homeless woman complained of repeated abuse. In Sausalito, people living at a publicly funded tent city said in court that contract workers dealt drugs and harassed women. After a homeless woman in LA was stabbed to death by a fellow shelter resident, her family sued a guard for negligence in an ongoing lawsuit, alleging that he remained at an onsite office despite screams during a long attack.


Lauren Hepler, investigative reporter for CalMatters


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Malihe Razazan is the senior producer of KALW's daily call-in program, Your Call.