Homeless shelters deal with physical distancing as judge sets deadline to relocate encampments

There is also concern that clearing homeless encampments now could cause people to move all over the community. That could spread COVID-19.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With the coronavirus pandemic and physical distancing, homeless shelters will look very different.

Rev. Andy Bales from the Union Rescue Mission says, "We've been reduced from about 1,000 to perhaps 550 to 600, so the greatest challenge is making up that capacity and welcoming back everybody who left us."

This comes as a federal judge sets a deadline for the county and City of Los Angeles calling for the relocation of people living under overpasses and near freeways.

"The county of Los Angeles and Judge Carter, we need to be working together strategically and coherently rather than on the brink of a major conflict," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

There is also a concern that clearing homeless encampments now could cause people to move all over the community. That could spread COVID-19.

"The challenge is the judge has ordered everyone away from the bridges but they have to have a place to go," says Bales.

Project Roomkey is a statewide effort to get hotel rooms for people to get off the streets because of the coronavirus. They don't have to be homeless. The program is paid for mostly with federal money, but state records show only about half of the 15,000 rooms being leased by the state are occupied.

"Well that's one way to interpret it, but we have housed more people in the space of four weeks than ever in the history of this crisis in the county of Los Angeles," Ridley-Thomas said.

The judge's deadline is Friday for a plan to deal with the homeless encampments.

Goodwill SoCal trying to close digital divide as more rely on technology amid coronavirus pandemic
EMBED More News Videos

As unemployment skyrockets nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic, Goodwill is trying to help those who may not have the needed technology find a job.

Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.