Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Housing and Homelessness

Activists Want A Pause on Encampment Sweeps As COVID Surges In Homeless Shelters

A homeless encampment under a freeway bridge has several tents and makeshift living quarters.
A homeless encampment under a freeway bridge in Joe Buscaino's City Council District 15.
(Ethan Ward
Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Homeless services providers and advocates are calling on L.A. leaders to put encampment cleanups on hold as COVID-19 outbreaks surge in shelters.

"We just can't enforce that they move indoors when there isn't a place to go,” said L.A. Family Housing CEO Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, adding that the organization's interim housing sites are all under quarantine, as are others.

Under an ordinance known as 41.18, L.A. City Council members can target encampments in their districts for cleanup, if outreach workers offer shelter to unhoused residents first.

However, with COVID outbreaks in homeless shelters soaring, there are few options for people experiencing homelessness. The L.A. County Department of Public Health reports around 250 active outbreaks in encampments, shelters and other "homeless service settings." That's up from 150 two weeks ago.

Support for LAist comes from

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said if individual housing options are not available, people living in encampments should be allowed to remain where they are and prevent the spread of the virus.

The federal government is offering reimbursements that would allow the city and county to rent out more hotel and motel rooms for people who need a place to quarantine or isolate.

Shayla Myers, an attorney with the L.A. Legal Aid Foundation, said the city should take advantage of that federal funding and expand Project Roomkey.

"People who need to quarantine or need to have sort of COVID bubbles — who can shelter in place — can't do that if encampments are being broken up."

What questions do you have about Southern California?