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Lashenee and her fiancé are living in a tent homeless in Los Angeles. Before this, she lived in a homeless shelter in Orange County, but she contracted coronavirus from one of the shelters’ staff members. Lashenee told two of the staff she felt sick, but it took the shelter another week before sending her into quarantine. 

Lashenee was finally tested for COVID-19, and she tested positive for the coronavirus. The homeless services provider placed Lashenee into a hotel with three other homeless women who tested positive. Lashenee said they kept moving her around to different rooms, but the big issue was the other women still had symptoms. 

Before Thanksgiving, the CDC told Lashenee that they could not go back to the homeless shelter or any shelter in California until after December 3rd. Lashenee’s fiancé tested negative, but the homeless services provider kept changing his quarantine date every time they were together. Homeless services often separate couples. 

Lashenee says the hotel where they were sent to quarantine lacked basic needs like clean towels and hygiene products. She tells the story of how one of the other women liked to completely undress and walk around naked all night. 

After December 3rd, Lashenee and her fiancé tried to go back to the shelter, but the homeless services provider said they could not return. The couple then decided to live outside in a tent. 

The amount of bureaucracy in the homeless sector that continues to make it extremely hard for homeless people to get the help they need is maddening. Bureaucracy literally kills people and wastes taxpayer money. Often the public believes it’s homeless people’s fault that they are homeless, when often it can be the homeless services system that causes someone’s street homelessness and makes it nearly impossible to get out of homelessness.

This week the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been given to healthcare workers. We should all rejoice over this miracle, but we also need to be realistic. It won’t be until next summer when most of us are able to get vaccinated, and often poor people get pushed to the end of the line. The homeless sector was caught off guard and has done amazing work considering the challenges caused by COVID-19, but like in Lashenee’s situation, we must do better if we are going to help people and help end this pandemic. 

Your voice can help end homelessness. If we do not fix the affordable housing crisis, homelessness will continue to get worse. Click here to tweet, email, call, or Facebook your federal and state legislators to tell them ending homelessness and creating more affordable housing is a priority to you.

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Invisible People


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