LOS ANGELES - The homeless population faces a special risk from the coronavirus, with the lack of ability to self-quarantine, get medical attention or access to cleaning facilities. On Thursday their fight switched to the courtroom.
In 2010 L.A. Police Chief Bill Bratton was asked what would it take to clean up LA’s Skid Row.
His answer? Probably a pandemic.
The former Chief was probably trying to make an absurd point. But fast forward to 2020, where we are in the grips of a terrifying pandemic.
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Today his words feel prescient. This as government leaders rushed to Federal Court on Thursday to deal with the homeless crisis on Skid Row, as fear spiked that a pandemic hitting and speeding through the homeless population would spill out.
It was a dizzying array of city, county and state leaders at the Federal Courthouse. A veritable Who’s Who: DA Jackie Lacey, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the current L.A. Police Chief Michel Moore to name a few. This hearing was ordered after a group called “L.A. Alliance for Human Rights” filed suit. The group said the lack of resources allotted to the homeless is creating a serious danger.
The judge overseeing today’s hearing is known for being compassionate behind the bench. Judge David Carter has made trips to homeless encampments. He was successful in getting more shelter for the homeless in Orange County.
All Los Angeles leaders who stopped to talk to us after the hearing today were remarkably upbeat. They described a scene where the judge was acting like a quarterback calling out plays on how to help the homeless. He urged each one of them to work on solutions within their power and area of government. And Judge Carter underscored that the time is now .... shelter for the most vulnerable population is at a tipping point.
Leadership was essential.
Meanwhile, back on Skid Row at the “Midnight Mission”, volunteers were busy preparing to grab and go lunches for the homeless. The number of volunteers offering time and money to this center is dwindling during the pandemic.
They struggle to meet the needs of this very vulnerable population. But yet volunteers stood strong today at their posts helping those who many shun in the light of day. It touched my heart to see this display of humanity today.
I will continue to cover this story as it evolves. Stay tuned.