How are homeless agencies responding to COVID-19?
We’ve been hearing a lot of understandable concern pertaining to COVID-19 and its impact on people experiencing homelessness in L.A. County. We are encouraged to see how eager people are to provide support to our most vulnerable neighbors, so here are a few important things you should know.
How you can help:
- United Way of Greater Los Angeles has created a Pandemic Relief Fund to provide financial and physical support to people living outside, as well as very low-income individuals and families at high-risk. Proceeds will support outreach teams and organizations that are providing medical care to people living outside and in shelters, improving and sanitizing shelters, and supporting other vulnerable populations, like food vendors, who are at risk of losing their jobs and homes.
Developments and updates:
- Mayor Garcetti has called for a temporary ban on all evictions in the city of Los Angeles, including commercial properties occupied by businesses that are impacted by closures. The L.A. City Council held its first vote on the evictions moratorium on Tuesday, March 17. We expect the citywide measure to be finalized as early as Tuesday, March 24. A similar bill has been proposed to protect renters statewide.
- The Los Angeles Unified School District has closed all schools for the next two weeks and will be operating 40 family resource centers and 20 grab-and-go food centers to provide food for low-income students. That includes the 18,000 students experiencing homelessness.
- At least six major utility companies in California have announced that they will not shut off water and utilities until at least the end of March.
- Outreach workers and homeless service agencies are hard at work supporting their clients with hygiene supplies and training, as well as coordinating to ensure that people have access to food and other essentials.
- The Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority portal has provided information on how they’re addressing the crisis, including resources to help partner agencies prepare their staff to support clients and myth-busters on how the virus is passed and ways to protect yourself.
- The L.A. County Department of Public Health portal provides information on the county’s response, including an updated tally of affected people, what to do if you are exposed, and how to recognize symptoms.
To echo the sentiments expressed by health care professionals everywhere: wash your hands thoroughly and often, avoid group settings, and keep your hands away from your face. And a final note on top of that: practice compassion, patience, and unselfishness. Together, we’re all going to get through this.