LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — In his daily briefing Wednesday, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city has launched a new program aimed at protecting survivors of domestic violence in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We want everybody to be safer at home, but for some folks, we know that home is not necessarily a safe place due to domestic violence,” Garcetti said. “But as a result of this pandemic, obviously, people had to stay in place, there’s no place for them to go … a lack of available beds for new individuals seeking help and seeking hope suddenly dried up.”
The mayor said the Los Angeles Police Department, like other agencies in the county, had seen a spike in daily domestic violence calls.
To address the growing need, the city launched Project Safe Haven using a $4.2 million donation from singer Rihanna and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Project Safe Haven will provide housing for up to 900 families over the course of the next three months.
“I thank them both for their hearts, for the speed with which they did this, and the ability to save lives as we’re saving lives,” Garcetti said.
The mayor said contracts have already been executed between the Mayor’s Fund and nonprofit organizations to provide case management and other related services for the survivors.
“I want every domestic violence survivor to know we care about you,” Garcetti said. “Your safety is not an opportunity. It is your right, and you’re not alone.”
Those in need of resources can text or call 911 if they are in immediate danger or go online for a list of available resources.
Garcetti also announced that, starting Wednesday night, all Los Angeles County residents would be able to get tested for COVID-19, regardless of whether they were experiencing symptoms.
“As long as this disease takes lives, we must test,” he said. “We know that coronavirus is a silent killer that moves quietly through the population, and many of the people who transmit the disease — this is why it is so deadly — don’t know that they have it.”
He said that people with symptoms, along with critical workers, would still have priority, but that widespread testing was crucial to moving forward in the days and weeks ahead.
“So if you think you might have COVID-19, want the reassurance that you don’t, if you’ve been around people that you have seen with symptoms, get a test,” he said. “We can do it, and I want to remind everybody, these tests are free for the public, no cost at all to you, but you can’t put a price on the peace of mind of knowing that you can’t infect somebody around you.”
Appointments are required for testing and can be made online.