‘Shameful’: Homeless Encampment Torn Down as LA Preps for Super Bowl

Roughly 60 unhoused folks will have to find a new place to live.
Shelea performs the National Anthem before the LA Rams and the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC divisional playoff game at SoFi Stadium.
Shelea performs the National Anthem before the LA Rams and the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC divisional playoff game at SoFi Stadium. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A homeless encampment near Los Angeles’ $5 billion football stadium has been dismantled—just weeks before the county is set to host Super Bowl LVI.

It’s not clear how many were living at the encampment before it was taken down, though local media reported about 60 people were residing in the space located by the 405 Freeway, which KTLA described as one of the main routes for people traveling between LAX and SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. (Inglewood, which is within Los Angeles County, is its own city, just southwest of LA.)  


Nonetheless, ever since the move was first reported by TMZ, officials have denied the sweep had anything to do with the upcoming Super Bowl, scheduled for Feb. 13. 

Still, sweeps before big events aren’t uncommon. And advocates for the unhoused aren’t happy that people are being displaced in a county with a long-standing housing crisis and homeless population of more than 66,000.

“We know there’s no available housing in Los Angeles right now. We also know that Los Angeles is seeing record numbers for COVID outbreaks,” People’s City Council Los Angeles, an activist organization, said in a tweet Monday. “Yet, the Super Bowl is coming here in a few weeks and we are sweeping and displacing unhoused folks with no place to go. Shameful.”

“We’ve seen this before and it’s a dress rehearsal for the massive Olympic banishment headed to LA,” Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN) said in a tweet Tuesday. (Los Angeles is set to host the 2028 Summer Olympics.)


Similarly, Atlanta announced it would clear homeless tent encampments shortly before it hosted the Super Bowl in 2019, and the mayor there also insisted the removals weren’t related to the sporting event. In 2020, homeless people living in a large encampment in Charlotte, North Carolina, claimed they were being forced out ahead of the Republican National Convention, too. The city denied asking people to move. And when Denver hosted Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game last summer, advocates charged that city officials were speedily clearing camps around Coors Field, which, for what it’s worth, the city’s mayor disputed. 

While officials have worked to separate themselves from accusations that they’re shuffling the poor out of sight ahead of big, money-making events, the fact remains that they tear down encampments—sometimes with disastrous effects for the homeless people within them—all the time, including in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles city council officials voted to prohibit outdoor sleeping in certain locations this past summer, for example. And around that time, Venice, a tourist destination with a visible homelessness crisis, was also the site of massive cleanup efforts. (Residents now say that homeless people have returned.) 


This week’s sweep was not by local officials’ direction, however. The California Department of Transportation said in a statement it had cleared the encampment over “a fire safety issue,” which the agency wouldn’t elaborate on. The homeless people living there—the agency also wouldn’t say how many there were—were given a 72-hour notice on Jan. 20 so they could “gather their belongings and take advantage of services,” according to the agency.

“(The department’s) responsibility is to ensure the safety of the traveling public and to protect and maintain California’s highway infrastructure,” the agency said. “The department is coordinating with local partners to provide outreach and support including Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA).”

But KTLA, a local news station, reported that a “worker” had told them the cleanup was due to the upcoming Super Bowl. And at least one homeless person told local media the sweep only managed to make them feel humiliated. 

“We don’t have too many options. It’s either on the streets, on the sidewalks, or in front of somebody’s business, and it’s real embarrassing,” Nicole Randolph told CBS LA. “We don’t want to be out here like that. We want our city to look good. We want to look good.”