COVID-19 Guidelines for Unhoused Angelenos and Demands to the City and County of LA

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In this public health crisis, Dr. Barbara Ferrer and her Los Angeles Department of Public Health (DPH) must IMMEDIATELY issue appropriate guidelines to be followed by unhoused people who lack shelter (75% of the homeless people in the County) and those who are trying to help them, whether at the City, County, LAHSA or others. On March 5, 2020, DPH issued a “Guidance for Homeless Shelters.” That guidance is irrelevant to the more than 44,000 unhoused people in her jurisdiction who have no shelter of any kind. Among those 44,000 unsheltered homeless people are more than 11,000 people aged 55 and over, including almost 3,400 who have a physical disability, and almost all of whom have significant health problems associated with living on the street. They are among the most vulnerable people in the County.

Unhoused and unsheltered people need specific, relevant guidance, as do the people trying to save their lives.  General rules don’t help: What does “stay home” mean to a homeless person? It might mean “stay in your tent or RV as much as possible.”  It might suggest to the LAPD and Sheriff that now is not a good time to be forcing people out of tents and then destroying them, if they have no less dangerous alternative.   Is a “membrane structure” full of cots or bunk beds 24 inches apart a less dangerous situation? What does “wash hands frequently” mean to people with access to neither plumbing nor handwashing stations? It might suggest to local governments the criticality of getting handwashing stations to people on an emergency basis.  But with NO guidance from Ferrer and her Department, other officials – City, County, and LAHSA – cannot take critically needed action.

1. STOP daytime “tents down” enforcement. Immediately suspend enforcement of the ban on having tents constructed during the day. Allow tents to remain up and people to stay in those tents, to allow for social distancing, as recommended by the CDC.

2. STOP towing RVs and other vehicles that people are using for shelter. Vehicles that can be used by unhoused folks to provide recommended social distance should not be towed for reasons like debt collection or unpaid registration. 

3. STOP all sweeps like “CARE+” that displace folks and often lead to the loss of critical life-saving belongings.  These sweeps do not promote public health and just serve to displace and banish folks from their communities. Banished communities must have a “right of return” to locations they’ve been displaced from. STOP dismantling informal settlements and pushing residents into the shadows and away from assistance.

4. STOP Evictions and implement an immediate Rent Freeze.  Pass eviction moratorium to keep Angelenos in their homes and prevent homelessness.

5. Supply dumpsters, showers, hand washing stations, port o potties, vermin abatement, soap, and water to every informal settlement in Los Angeles. Outfit the informal settlements with supplies and services needed to keep them healthy including expanded trash pickup and spot cleanings.

6. Immediately implement 24-7 restroom access in parks, beaches, and government properties.  The largest stock of public restrooms and handwashing stations are in public parks, beaches, and government properties and can be made immediately available. 

7. Provide space that those who do not have a permanent home can access, including public spaces and private buildings to slow/stop the spread.  Immediately open vacant city, state, and county-owned buildings, vacant lots, and other public properties and provide items needed to slow/stop the spread.  Make use of hotels and motel rooms for people to quarantine and to protect unhoused people who are elderly or have conditions that will make COVID-19 especially deadly.

8. Oppose ANY PLAN that uses a guise of “public health” to warehouse homeless people in tent structures or camps that results in people living on top of one another.  “Social Distancing” is impossible to accomplish employing that strategy; however, death is inevitable. In 2019 Los Angeles experienced 3 homeless deaths per day. Many of the current proposals would likely increase the rate of infection and death.

9. Release incarcerated Angelenos. Given the inherent risk of contracting the virus in jail, incarcerated individuals should be released absent a compelling safety reason. People who cannot afford bail should be released unless they pose an imminent threat to cause serious harm to an identified person. Vulnerable people and those serving misdemeanor sentences should be released. Those in jail should receive proper medical care.

10. The city and county must utilize their expansive outreach worker capacity. Since the passing of Measure H and Prop HHH, the county and city of Los Angeles through LAHSA have hired hundreds of outreach workers that should now be dispatched to provide public health supplies, education, and awareness on combating COVID-19.

Take action by signing onto publicly support these demands:
Add your support here

Additional Signers

Organizations
  • About My Father’s Business Homeless Outreach Ministry
  • Anti-Racist Action Los Angeles
  • Camarada Gringo
  • Community House
  • End Homelessness Now-LA
  • Freedom Socialist Party
  • Grass Roots Neighbors
  • HEART- Housing Equality & Advocacy Resource Team
  • Homeless Health Care Los Angeles
  • Idle No More SoCal
  • Inner City Law Center
  • Invisible People
  • National Health Care for the Homeless Council
  • National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles
  • RadioJustice
  • Raise Up Venice
  • resisterhoodLA
  • Save Venice
  • Secular Humanists Volunteer Network of LA
  • The Sidewalk Project
  • Venice Catholic Worker
  • Venice Community Housing
  • Venice Justice Committee
  • Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP)
  • Westside For All
Individuals
  • Abril Dozal
  • Adam Pilarski
  • Adam Smith
  • Adrian Riskin
  • Alexandra Michel
  • Alie Kadlac
  • Allie Kiekhofer
  • Alon Krauthammer
  • Amanda Russell
  • Amy Wang
  • Barbara Chavez
  • Ben Levine
  • Benina Stern
  • Blaire Crits-Christoph
  • Carrie Ungerman
  • Chantelle Hershberger
  • Chela Fiorini
  • Chelsea Padilla
  • Cheryl Auger
  • Chris powerS
  • Christy Griffith
  • Christy Griffith
  • Colleen Evanson
  • Courtney Bell
  • Cristina Fariaz
  • Daniel Lee
  • David Ewing
  • Debra Skelton
  • Donna Malamud
  • Dottie Alexanian
  • Emma Hurme
  • Elise Tookmanian
  • Elizabeth Vazquez
  • Eric Ares
  • Erich Eilenberger
  • Eryn Piper Block
  • Evan Burrows
  • Evan Mays
  • Francesca de la Rosa
  • franz mrdr
  • Gary Blasi
  • Geremy Mumenthaler
  • Golzar Yousefi
  • Graham J. Trim
  • Haley Pollock
  • Hannah Bowlus
  • Harry May-Kline
  • Havalah Collins
  • Ian Jameson
  • Ingrid Mueller
  • Jacqueline Anderson
  • Janis Yue
  • Jean Park
  • Jed Pauker
  • Jessa Orluk
  • Jessica Sykes
  • Jill Bencsits
  • Joe O’Neilll
  • John Kawakami
  • John N Lozier
  • John Park
  • John Roman
  • Jonathan Tortoise
  • Joseph Barkeley
  • josh androsky
  • Joshua Hoffman
  • Kate Outterbridge
  • Katherine Robinson
  • Kayla Shore
  • Kevin Ulibarri
  • Kirk Gale
  • Kristine Guzman
  • L. Stephanie Tait
  • Laura McClain
  • LaVonne Ellis
  • Lex Roman
  • Lindsey Baron
  • Louis Russell
  • Lucas Torrone
  • Lyn Perrine
  • Mackenzie Kearns
  • madeline keyes-levine
  • Malcolm Jenkins
  • Marie-Aimée Brajeux
  • Marisa Turesky
  • Mary Kenny
  • Mary Nagakawa
  • Maya Aceytuno
  • Meagan Penney
  • Michael W Evans
  • Michele Ondre
  • Miranda Cristifani
  • Nancy Lee
  • Natasha Vanderhoof
  • Nayely Payán
  • Pascal Stevenson
  • Paul Read
  • Peta Orbach
  • Phill Gee
  • Rachel Sardi Coles
  • Rachel Wells
  • Rebecca Chisholm
  • Rebecca Solomon
  • Rick Garvey
  • Robert Miles
  • Robert Sucher
  • Robyn Popp
  • Rosie LaTortuga
  • Ross S. Heckmann
  • Ryan Taylor
  • Sabrina Johnson
  • Sam Lau
  • Shelly Chen
  • Shelly Rosenblatt
  • Steve Clare
  • Surys Bhat
  • Susan Klos
  • Tabatha Yelos
  • Tina Deraco
  • Vivien Ling
  • Wendy Zacuto