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Letters to the Editor: Kicking homeless people out of their tents will only help spread COVID-19

Homeless in Venice
Homeless residents of Venice affix their tents to sidewalk fencing on Rose Avenue in 2017.
( Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The Los Angeles Police Department’s decision to remove tents in Venice, where people experiencing homelessness have taken shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic, is extremely disappointing and extraordinarily shortsighted.

As the L.A. Times reported, living outdoors may have helped reduce COVID-19 among this very vulnerable population. As it also reported, just seven of the 26 shelters that were opened to prevent COVID-19’s spread among this population remain open now. That leaves few, if any, options for safely housing Venice’s unsheltered residents.

As a nonprofit community health center that provides care for about 4,500 individuals experiencing homelessness in Venice and the Westside, we know that housing is healthcare, especially during a pandemic. Our unsheltered neighbors are generally sicker and die far younger than people living in shelter.

To protect the health of people experiencing homelessness in Venice, and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the city must find permanent supportive housing for each person before removing the tents that provide their shelter now.

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Elizabeth Benson Forer, Venice

The writer is chief executive of the Venice Family Clinic.


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