‘Urine across campus’: City’s homeless crisis forced private school to shut down, lawsuit alleges

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(Image by Alexa from Pixabay)

By Jake Smith
Daily Caller News Foundation

A lawsuit alleges that an art school in Los Angeles had to shut its doors due to the city’s persistent and increasing homeless crisis, the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday.

The Academy of Media Arts abruptly closed down on Jan. 15 and left dozens of high school students without an immediate resolution for continuing their education, according to the Times. Los Angeles suffers from one of the worst homelessness crises in the U.S. and the city is spending billions to try and fix it.

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The school shut down because its location in the L.A. Grand Hotel, where a makeshift homeless shelter is also located, resulted in the homeless population negatively impacting the school, according to a lawsuit filed by school founder Dana Hammond.

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“Our students’ lives were in jeopardy because of the Inside Safe residents,” Hammond told the Times. “We’re not enemies of the homeless shelter, we just can’t put them in the same building as a high school.”

Hammond had initially leased three floors of the L.A. Grand Hotel in 2022 so he could move his school there and offer students better art facilities, according to the Times. The school initially recruited up to 250 students but that number began to decline rapidly down to about 50, leaving Hammond unable to pay rent on the lease in January.

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There were multiple reports of the homeless population living at the L.A. Grand Hotel’s shelter negatively impacting or directly interacting with the school and students; one man got into a confrontation with the school’s bodyguard, another man trespassed into the school through the back entrance, and another man had to be subdued by police officers in early January after breaking into the school, according to the Times.

One woman was reported exposing herself to students, and another woman was seen lying naked behind the school in the early hours of the morning and threatened to “shoot and stab” a security guard when approached, according to the Times. Outside the school, drug paraphernalia, empty liquor bottles and garbage litter the sidewalks; the school sign is covered in graffiti.

Hammond said the problems left students terrified, according to the Times.

“Human poop on sidewalk. The smell of urine across campus. Outburst from ‘Inside Safe’ tenants. Break-ins by ‘Inside Safe’ tenants. Drug paraphernalia found on campus. ‘Inside Safe’ tenants found in trash bins,” read comments left on a classroom whiteboard, according to the Times.

The “Inside Safe” program is the initiative of Los Angeles Democratic Mayor Karen Bass to move the city’s massive homeless population off of the streets and into temporary housing such as the L.A. Grand Hotel. Bass has received criticism as homelessness still permeates the city and many who are given temporary housing cannot find permanent housing, and in some cases end up back on the street.

There are roughly 47,000 homeless people living in Los Angeles, and the city spends over $1 billion per year to try and address the crisis. The L.A. Grand Hotel, which has been recruited for the “Inside Safe” program as temporary housing, will receive $20 million from the city for a lease extension through July, according to the Times.

Bass’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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