A temporary tent city for homeless Veterans has been erected in the VA’s parking lot in Los Angeles.
The US Department Veterans Affairs Westside parking lot in Los Angeles County was opened to provide services for 25 homeless Veterans to ensure social distancing protocols are followed. They plan to expand services to 50 people as needed.
The space is being provided for the people to shelter in place in their own tents and maintain social distancing to slow the spread of the Corona Virus, according to the LA Times.
The VA is calling this site a “services center” for Veterans and services provided include “medical and psychiatric care, as well as monitoring, food services, bathrooms, showers and security.”
Homeless Veterans in LA County make up an estimated 2,900 to 4,000 people living in their cars, tents and makeshift shanties. While the problem has been going on for a long time, it took a global pandemic to begin addressing the issue, Judicial Watch noted.
The Vets living in these encampments are isolated which has allowed some degree of protection for them during the spread of the virus, said Dr. Joshua Bamberger, an expert on homelessness and a professor at UC San Francisco, told the LA Times.
Years of living on the street compromise the immune system of people that are homeless. They frequently have unaddressed underlying medical conditions, making them more susceptible to contracting the Corona Virus.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has not yet opined on the campgrounds, though other officials are not ruling out more tent cities if they are needed. “Nothing is off the list,” said L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
Veteran advocates hope that this will open the door to address the broader needs of the Veteran homeless population in the LA county area.
“This could be a turning point,” said Robert Rosebrock, an Army veteran who has long accused the VA of commercializing its medical campus and shorting healthcare services and housing opportunities for veterans.
“These people have so much potential. Now with this virus thing and all of us facing troubled times, maybe we can do more for them.”