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Massive effort to get Los Angeles homeless into hotels

SeattlePI.com Wednesday, 8 April 2020
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles has embarked on a massive and unprecedented effort to bring thousands of homeless people off the streets and into hotels to protect the most vulnerable residents as the coronavirus continues to spread.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that money from the federal government would help pay for at least 15,000 hotel rooms during the pandemic in a state with the country's largest homeless population.

But Los Angeles County, with the state's largest concentration of homeless people at some 60,000, has set its own goal of 15,000 rooms.

“We're going big in LA,” said Heidi Marston, interim director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. “We based our goal on what the need is here."

Marston planned to outline the effort on Wednesday during the daily coronavirus briefing by county health officials.

Advocacy groups say the homeless population is particularly at risk during the crisis. Many transients already have health problems such as heart disease or diabetes, and live in conditions that do not allow for frequent hand washing and social distancing.

The hotel rooms set aside under the state's Project Roomkey are reserved for the “most vulnerable” of the county's homeless population, Marston said. These include people over 65 years old or those with underlying health conditions, and who do not have symptoms but are at high risk for hospitalization if they contract the virus.

The first hotel opened April 3 in LA. A total of 1,340 beds at 15 sites across the county are expected to be ready by the end of this week.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday that the number of rooms needs to increase rapidly and he encouraged hotel operators to continue allowing the government to lease.

“But,” he warned,...
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Massive effort to get Los Angeles homeless into hotels

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