Angelenos experiencing homelessness already face a daily slew of challenges, and this summer hasn’t let up in that department between the sweltering temperatures we’ve seen over the last month and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But now about six months into the pandemic, we’re getting a better sense of the impact of the pandemic on both those experiencing homelessness and the public and private organizations that provide services and shelter to them.
Some researchers predicted early on in the pandemic that COVID-19 could lead to more than 400 deaths and 2,600 hospitalization of homeless people in Los Angeles County. But those numbers have fortunately been drastically lower than what was initially forecast. The Los Angeles Times reports that as of mid-August, of the more than 1,300 cases of COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles, there had been just 31 deaths. The reason for this isn’t clear, though some say the fact that homeless people spend most of their time outside, meaning they’re able to keep their distance more easily and don’t have to worry about proper ventilation.
For the county’s part, it continues to provide hotel and motel rooms to at-risk members of L.A. County’s homeless community through Project Roomkey. But some advocates for the elderly and disabled say the program discriminates against certain members of the population who aren’t able to do things like go to the bathroom or get out of bed on their own. They wrote the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority a letter last month outlining their concerns, and the two groups were scheduled to meet this week to discuss a way forward. LAHSA was also the subject of discussion at this week’s County Board of Supervisors meeting, where supervisors considered a proposal to consider changes to the agency’s governance model.
Today on AirTalk, we’ll check in on the impact that the pandemic is having on Los Angeles County’s homeless population, get an update on where things stand with Project Roomkey, find out what came from Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors agenda item to consider restructuring LAHSA and more. If you have questions, join our live conversation by calling 866-893-5722
If you are currently experiencing homelessness, or know someone who is, and you’d like to get help, you can call 211 or click here to be taken to LAHSA’s resource page.
Heidi Marston, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the lead agency coordinating housing and services for homeless families and individuals in Los Angeles County; she tweets @heidimarstonLA
Va Lecia Adams Kellum, president and CEO of St. Joseph Center which works with working poor families, and homeless men, women and children; they have offices in Venice, South L.A. and Downtown L.A.; she tweets @VaLeciaAdams