LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The first $150 million of emergency coronavirus funding passed earlier this week by California lawmakers will be used to house homeless people, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.
Calling the homeless population “the most vulnerable to the spread” of COVID-19, Newsom’s order will fund $100 million for shelters and emergency housing and the remaining $50 million to purchase more than 1,300 trailers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other vendors, and lease hotel and motel rooms.
Two hotel properties with nearly 400 rooms have already been leased in Northern California, while ten trailers were sent to South Los Angeles in February.
“California is deploying massive resources to get these vulnerable residents safely into shelter, removing regulatory barriers and securing trailers and hotels to provide immediate housing options for those most at risk,” said Newsom. “Helping these residents is critical to protecting public health, flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID-19.”
Hotel and motel rooms will be used “for homeless individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are symptomatic, or otherwise at significant risk”, according to Newsom.
And in the city of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said those experiencing homelessness were the most vulnerable to the illness, stating that the city needed a FEMA-level response.
Garcetti said he was ramping up a plan that was already in place before the crisis, including keeping the 500 winter shelter beds open until at least September.
“During this emergency, we will suspend rules that require unsheltered individuals to take their tents down during the day, making it easier for this at-risk population to practice safe social distancing,” Garcetti said. “But we are going to work to relocate vulnerable Angelenos indoors into low-barrier, congregate settings with the proper spacing and into some shelter spaces that have been in the pipeline to open in the near future.”
Garcetti said the city has already deployed nearly 300 handwashing stations and 120 mobile bathrooms at homeless encampments.
The Los Angeles Police Department and transportation department are going to deliver 6,000 beds to 42 recreation centers across the city.
And by the end of this week, the city will bring more than 1,600 beds online in 13 recreation centers.