California Struggles to House Large Homeless Population Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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Posted: Mar 20, 2020 12:45 PM
California Struggles to House Large Homeless Population Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Source: AP Photo/Richard Vogel

California Governor Gavin Newsom is working to house California's large homeless population amid growing concern over the spread of the Wuhan virus. 

"People experiencing homelessness are among the most vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19," Newsom said Wednesday evening. "Helping these residents is critical to protecting public health, flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID-19."

Around 150,000 people are estimated to be homeless in California, according to the Associated Press. Gov. Newsom predicts 56 percent of all Californians will be infected with COVID-19 in eight weeks, although the governor's dire projection reportedly does not factor in any mitigation efforts that will slow the spread of the virus. 

"This is essentially a threat to the population generally," warned Los Angeles County Supervisor, and Co-Chair of the statewide task force on homelessness, Mark Ridley-Thomas. "It is not uncomplicated and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart, but we have an obligation to address this. Otherwise, the matter worsens."

On Wednesday, Newsom announced $150 million in emergency funding, $100 million of which will go to local jurisdictions struggling to house area homeless. The other $50 million will be spent on providing emergency trailers and leasing hotel rooms to provide additional shelter. The governor said more than 1,300 emergency trailers will be deployed throughout the state and around 950 properties have already been identified as potential shelter sites.

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The governor expects 60,000 homeless individuals living in California will be infected with the coronavirus in the coming weeks.