Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is pursuing a plan to house 6,000 homeless people in recreation centers in residential neighborhoods during the coronavirus pandemic. But that plan ignores Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on the subject.
The CDC’s “Interim Guidance for Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) among People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness” does not recommend moving large numbers of homeless people indoors.
It acknowledges: “Lack of housing contributes to poor health outcomes, and linkage to permanent housing should continue to be a priority.”
However, the CDC adds the spread of coronavirus in close quarters must be considered:
In the context of COVID-19, the risks associated with sleeping outdoors in an encampment setting are different than with staying indoors in a congregate setting such as an emergency shelter or other congregate living facility. Outdoor settings may allow people to increase distance between themselves and others. However, sleeping outdoors often does not provide protection from the environment, quick access to hygiene and sanitation facilities, or connection to healthcare. The balance of risks should be considered for each individual experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
It is not clear how Garcetti’s plan assesses the “balance of risks.”
In his statement last week announcing the plan, Garcetti did not mention the CDC guidelines. His plan aims simply “to help get homeless Angelenos indoors more quickly.”
As the CDC guidelines suggest, moving people indoors may thwart efforts at “social distancing.”
The guidelines are adamant that while informal encampments are at risk for the spread of coronavirus, authorities should not clear them during a coronavirus outbreak, because residents could spread coronavirus elsewhere.
The mayor did not mention encampments, but he is relocating thousands of people, raising concerns among some residents that infection, if it exists, could be easily, if unintentionally, spread to their communities.
The CDC also adds that “[p]lans need to be clearly communicated to all stakeholders.”
Local communities, as well as some homeless people themselves, have complained that they do not understand the city’s plan.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.