As the city goes under a stay-at-home order issued Thursday, Breitbart reports, Mayor Eric Garcetti is going ahead with a plan to move thousands of homeless people in Los Angeles into recreation centers in residential neighborhoods as part of the city’s effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Los Angeles’s mayor announced Wednesday that city crews are working to turn 42 recreation centers into homeless shelters to get LA’s most vulnerable residents safely inside.
At each site, the city will provide workers with protective equipment, including coveralls, face masks and gloves, said Ashley Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the Department of Recreation and Parks. Those who move in will receive socks, blankets and personal hygiene kits, she said.
At a special meeting of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority commission on Thursday, housing task force chief Amy Perkins said the new shelters were being limited to about 80% of their capacity to maintain proper spacing, as recommended by public health officials. Beds are expected to be 6½ feet apart.
Garcetti’s is following the policy set by Governor Gavin Newsom, who has said he would like all of the state’s homeless to be moved indoors during the pandemic. Another approach would be to leave homeless people out in the open air, where they can socially distance.
But many homeless people live in encampments and there is a fear that homeless people will be easily exposed to the virus.
The San Francisco Chronicle, citing federal officials not authorized to speak, reported that “they’re finding it’s safer to leave homeless camps outside in the open air, with proper spacing and sanitation facilities, than to move people into cramped settings indoors.”
It is not clear if there was any consultation with local communities before the decision to use recreation centers to house the homeless. One local community leader said the recreation centers should be used to provide hospital space for local residents.
California politicians have come under severe criticism for the explosion in the state’s homeless population over the past several years.