Friday, March 20, 2020

Pelosi, Schiff, An'Em Banking On Controlavirus To Solve Prison And Homeless Problems

Guardian |  Southern California homeless shelter residents say long-running unsanitary and inhumane conditions now put them at severe risk of death amid the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

As California officials this week urged millions of residents to stay inside and avoid physical contact to slow the spread of Covid-19, people living in several overcrowded homeless shelters in Orange county say they continue to sleep in rows of beds within a few feet of each other, and that they often lack basic hygiene supplies and amenities.

The residents report a variety of serious problems, including empty soap dispensers, a lack of toilet paper, no hot water, broken sinks, no working thermometers, blood-stained walls and infrequent cleaning. They worry the shelters are ill-prepared to cope once the spread of the virus intensifies in the US.

“It’s appalling. One person gets a cough and everyone gets it,” said Wendy Powitzky, 49, who has been living at the La Mesa shelter in Anaheim in southern California for months. “We’ve already been passing around a standard cold.”

Some days, the soap containers in the bathroom go empty: “Most people don’t have their own. So I guess everyone else is just washing their hands with water.”

California has the largest homeless population in the US, with more than 40,000 people living in shelters on a given night. Advocates and shelter residents have warned for years that many of the facilities are underregulated and underfunded, and that conditions in some may pose significant health hazards. Amid the coronavirus crisis, they fear, those circumstances could make the spread of the virus in shelters near-inevitable.