California houses homeless in hotels to prevent coronavirus spread 

Some 75 percent of the homeless population in Los Angeles live on the street, where they are at increased risk of contracting the coronavirus. (AFP)
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Updated 19 April 2020

California houses homeless in hotels to prevent coronavirus spread 

  • California's governor Gavin Newsom allocated $50 million from the state’s emergency fund to provide shelters

California Governor Gavin Newsom allocated $50 million from the state’s emergency fund to provide shelters for self-isolation and treatment for those without homes during the coronavirus pandemic. 

A reported 75 percent of the homeless population live on the street, where they are at increased risk of contracting and spreading the virus.

Andrew Bales is CEO of a homeless outreach and recovery organization called Union Rescue Mission, which is located in the Skid Row neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles.

“The way I know right now it’s being laid out is hotels are being rented,” Bales told Arab News. “That’s where we’re going to send our most vulnerable from a mission on the streets of Skid Row. People are moving from there to a hotel where the hotels are being set up like missions: Different levels of care like a hospital.”

One of the early plans to house the estimated 113,000 homeless population was a fleet of 1,300 recreational vehicles across California, with one of the camps at a closed-off beach in Los Angeles. 

“They didn’t work out practically,” said Bales. “They were too costly to rent. They didn’t work out great for being accessible. The wind was blowing strong. I just heard this from a nurse. The wind was blowing strong. Everybody felt the sand pelting them so they actually closed those down at Dockweiler Beach in El Segundo. Moved it to Bell Gardens.”

Hotel rooms have so far proved to be a better solution, with greater privacy, accessibility and the ability to be converted into nursing clinics. The effects of this funding can already be seen on the empty streets of Skid Row, a sign that people are safely indoors.

“Could we be at 40 percent have a roof over their heads and 60 percent are still in the streets? I can’t take account of that,” said Bales. “But I think by the time all this is over perhaps it could be reversed: 75 percent could be under a roof for good and 25 percent still on the streets, and we’ll just keep working until we become a society that doesn’t leave one precious human being on the streets.”


Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

Updated 34 min 16 sec ago

Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

MANILA: Virgilio Estuesta has picked through trash in the Philippines’ biggest city for four decades, and is noticing an unusually large amount of plastics during his daily trawl of about 15 km (9.3 miles).
Tough curbs re-imposed to combat a surge in daily coronavirus infections are squeezing income for the 60-year-old, as many of the junkyards and businesses in Manila that buy his recyclables have been closed since March.
Plastic items, such as bottles and containers, dominate the contents of the rickety wooden cart Estuesta pushes through the deserted streets, far more than metals and cardboard, yet the money they bring in is not enough to get by.
“It’s been really hard for us, it’s been difficult looking for recyclables that sell high,” he said.
“Recently we’ve been seeing a lot more plastics, but the problem is they don’t really sell high.”
Environmentalists say the Philippines is battling one of the world’s biggest problems stemming from single-use plastics, and ranks among the biggest contributors to plastic pollution of the oceans. It has no reliable data for its plastics consumption.
Greenpeace campaigner Marian Ledesma said consumers and businesses are now using yet more single-use plastics, in a bid to ward off virus infections.
“The pandemic has really increased plastic pollution,” she added. “Just because there’s a lot more people using disposables now, due to misconceptions and fears around transmitting the virus.”
Since March 16, Manila has experienced lockdowns of varying levels of severity, in some of the world’s longest and tightest measures to curb the spread of the virus.
They are taking a toll on Estuesta, who hopes to start earning soon.
“When you go out, the police will reprimand you,” he said. “I was stuck at home and had to rely on government aid, which was not enough. I had to resort to borrowing money from people.”