Homeless Los Angeles residents seize vacant homes for shelter during coronavirus pandemic

The occupants are aiming to remain in the homes in a protest of the lack of attention given to their living conditions by the government

homeless thegrio.com
Commuters walk past the shelters and tents of homeless people underneath a railway track (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

With the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, homeless residents of Los Angeles have taken over vacant homes in El Sereno, stating on Wednesday the government has not provided them with shelter.

The takeover of the homes in the area is following the occupying of a dozen other empty homes that were owned by The Caltrans. They are a state agency that purchased the property in a futile attempt to expand the 710 Freeway.

The occupants are aiming to remain in the homes in a protest of the lack of attention given to their living conditions, The Los Angeles Times reported.

READ MORE: Coronavirus hits U.S. prisons, putting imprisoned populations at risk

“With this health crisis and this housing crisis, we need every vacant house to be a home for those who don’t have a safe and stable place to sleep in,” said Ruby Gordillo.

The 33-year-old released her statement while standing on the porch of a home that she moved in with her three children.

Gordillo and additional protestors and occupants in El Sereno are now affiliated with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. The organization advocates for rent control expansion and tenant protection. Late last year the group aided homeless mothers in Oakland who received support from Gov. Gavin Newsom on forcing the area they were evicted from into a community land trust.

READ MORE: Civil rights leaders urge Congress to consider Black workers impacted by Coronavirus

Currently, there is an estimate of 36,000 people who are homeless in Los Angeles. Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti created plans on Wednesday to assist in the placement of the homeless population with pre-existing conditions indoors.

To aid those efforts, local governments were supplied with $150 million in aid from the state. The American Red Cross will assist the city in provided 6,000 beds at 42 recreation centers, KABC-TV reported.

“If we take these emergency shelter beds and add in our bridge shelter beds, this means we can bring 7,000 unhoused Angelenos off the streets and into emergency housing. The most in recent memory, maybe ever in the city’s history,” Garcetti said.

Andy Bales, CEO of Union Rescue Mission, states 300 handwashing stations and 120 mobile bathrooms exist to protect the homeless from the coronavirus.

The efforts are viewed as being too slow in response to local residents. The state has not attempted to evict the families since they moved in. However, prior to the takeover, The Caltrans had placed the homes on the market.