Facing COVID-19 has been hard on us all. We’re stuck in our homes. We miss our friends, our extended family and our daily lives as we knew them. But now take the struggles you’ve experienced and imagine what that would have been like if you were living in isolation on the streets.
The only people outside right now are people who have nowhere else to go. They’re scared. The few comforts they ordinarily have aren’t available. They can’t charge their phones at restaurants, and many of the places where they had access to food are shut down. Many are afraid. Everyone is incredibly vulnerable.
Homelessness already takes a terrible toll on health. People in their fifties show the health problems of people in their eighties. Living on the street has always been dangerous, where life and death struggles become the norm.
It is unacceptable that 66,43 people find themselves without shelter on any given night.
United Way of Greater Los Angeles has been working on the long-term goal of ending homelessness for years. When the threat of coronavirus to people experiencing homelessness became apparent, our organization had connections and knowledge that could make a short-term difference. And the quick establishments of the Pandemic Relief Fund has allowed us to help our most vulnerable and the organizations that serve them.
Since early in the lockdown, and continuing through its second month, we’ve worked with the City and County of Los Angeles to address shelter needs. We’ve helped decompress shelters, get new sites set up for sick people to quarantine, and find locations where unsheltered people could stay while maintaining social distance. For high-risk people who need shelter, we are working closely with public partners on Project Roomkey, providing hotel and motel rooms for safe quarantine. To make our unsheltered neighbors feel at home in their new surroundings, we’ve coordinated welcome kits to help people stay safe and stay indoors. The kits include hygiene items, clothing, puzzles and books.
We’re also bridging gaps where they come up. We are working with partners to help our most vulnerable access food and health care services. We are providing supplies to help keep our frontline workers as well as mini-grants to community organizations who are serving as a safety net more than ever.
As we look to recovery, we’re urging our leaders to “solve the problem once.” No one who comes inside during the crisis should have to go back out. We’ll continue to update you on how we work with local leaders and our program partners to make that a reality. Join us in our efforts by donating today.