Calling for organizations and individuals to sign onto this urgent letter to stop CARE+ “cleanups” which are displacing our community members. Read the letter below and sign on.
Shelter in Place, Not Sweep and Displace
IMMEDIATELY END LA CITY’S CARE+ DISPLACEMENT WHILE UNDER CALIFORNIA’S STATE OF EMERGENCY ORDER
To Mayor Eric Garcetti and Members of the Board of Public Works:
CC: Dr. Barbara Ferrer
In March of 2020, when there were 50 new COVID cases per day, LA City sanitation officials made the decision to stop requiring people to move their tents during comprehensive CARE+ cleanups in order to comply with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of California. Such cleanups that require individuals to move from the area can take anywhere from two hours to the entire day, one official told council members in July 2020. On December 16, 2020, Los Angeles County reported over 20,000 new cases of COVID-19. A staggering statistic that is several times more widespread and deadly than the initial impact of the pandemic in the spring. Intensive Care Unit beds are filled at most hospitals. By every metric, Los Angeles is facing what Dr. Barbara Ferrer has called “the most difficult moment in the pandemic” and we still do not know what impact the holidays will have on rates of infection, hospitalization, and death. Yet just in this past week, the City has displaced unhoused residents at dozens of CARE+ sweeps, forcing them from their homes and making it impossible for them to shelter in place for the duration of the cleanups.
CARE+ is the City of LA’s comprehensive encampment “clean up” program, also known as sweeps. CARE+ sweeps force unhoused residents to move all of their belongings and relocate under the guise of “sanitation” and “public health,” but in reality, what many experience is displacement—temporary or permanent. These comprehensive cleanups are the perfect environment to spread COVID-19. There are close interactions between individuals, the cleanup process does not allow for social distancing, and not every person properly wears a mask. Unhoused residents are already dying at a rate of four per day. It is irresponsible to risk increasing the spread of COVID-19 in a community that already has severe and unmet health needs. There have also been documented cases of COVID infection among CARE+ teams and City employees. Implementing comprehensive cleanups has devastating consequences for the unhoused community, as well as city workers, and the general public.
The City’s suspension of CARE+ in response to COVID-19 most likely was a primary factor in preventing greater rates of infection among the unhoused community. The CDC recommends if individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are stating that “clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”
This guidance applies with equal force to cleanups that only temporarily relocate people for the day. It only takes a few minutes for a person to contract COVID-19. The City’s healthcare system is collapsing, and there is no way the City should be restarting cleanup that displaces people in the middle of the worst surge this Country has seen to date.
The Services Not Sweeps coalition and partners condemns sweeps that result in the displacement of unhoused residents and the loss of their property. We demand that the Mayor and LA Sanitation Officials, and Los Angeles Department of Public Health take immediate action to protect the health of all Angelenos and halt this forced displacement during CARE+ operations, while California is under a state of emergency.
More actions you can take
Email Mayor Garcetti and demand he stop sweeps and displacement during the pandemic. Use the language in our letter above and make it your own.
Tweet to help us build momentum. Tweetstorm on Mon, Dec 21 at 10am but keep the pressure on daily