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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Housing homeless people together to fight coronavirus makes no sense

Westwood Recreation Center
Volunteers work with city staffers to set up cots for homeless people at the Westwood Recreation Center on March 20.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The use of hotels, motels and particularly recreation centers with many beds in large rooms as emergency housing for Los Angeles’ homeless people is possibly the worst choice imaginable. High-density facilities will become breeding grounds for the coronavirus; the risk of infection there will be greater than living on the street.

A better option would be to convert parks and golf courses to campgrounds where the military and National Guard could set up tent cities with food delivery, cots, blankets, sanitation, garbage collection and more. Tents could be spaced far apart for isolation.

If our military can do this for field troops, why can’t it do it for homeless people?

Alan Barker, Venice

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To the editor: I counted 50 cots, and more in a stack, in the Saturday photo of workers preparing for homeless people to shelter in the Westwood Recreation Center.

Who decided that social distancing directives should not apply to homeless people? We should do a lot better than this to prevent homeless people from spreading COVID-19.

Katherine Stewart, San Diego

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To the editor: Tents are being erected in Seattle for temporary medical facilities, and recreaction centers in Los Angeles are being turned into temporary homeless shelters.

On a morning run to do a curbside pickup recently, I passed a former Costco warehouse, now empty, and a shuttered Toys-R-Us store in Torrance. In Hermosa Beach, a former oil drilling office has been vacant for well over a year; same with a former federal building in Manhattan Beach.

I am willing to bet that there are many, many such spaces throughout Southern California, empty buildings just waiting to be occupied.

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Are we completely blind to resources available for the most vulnerable? These solutions may not be ideal nor pass muster when it comes to government regulations, but in times of dire need, why not use what we already have?

Laura Geisel, Redondo Beach


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