The outbreak of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County has spurred renewed efforts to provide homes and shelter for the region's unhoused population. Now, after finally bringing homeless older adults indoors, County officials must grapple with how to keep roofs over their heads.
Earlier this week, the Board of Supervisors directed the County's Chief Executive Officer and other departments to report back within 30 days with strategies to provide long-term housing options to homeless adults aged 65 years or older who were provided emergency housing due to the COVID-19 emergency declaration. A second report is expected within 45 days laying out a multi-year implementation framework for the plan, complete with cost estimates to be considered in supplemental budget deliberations during for Fiscal Year 2020/2021.
The County's plan would be built on strategies included in a report given to California Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this year, including expanding rental protections, preventing evictions without just cause, providing legal representation for low-income tenants, removing administrative barriers to housing construction, and improving the social safety net.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles County has arranged occupancy agreements with empty hotel and motel rooms to provide safe shelter for its unhoused population. As of April 13, the County has secured nearly 2,000 beds at 23 different sites, with 515 already in use. Officials hope to eventually secure 15,000 hotel and motel rooms.
The County's has prioritized homeless seniors, who are at statistically at a higher risk of mortality should they contract the virus. There are more than 13,600 unhoused seniors in Los Angeles County, according to the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.
As of April 15, there are more than 10,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and 403 deaths resulting from the virus.