MALIBU—The People Concern is an NGO based out of Santa Monica, two of their full-time employees work out of Malibu, helping the homeless community in the city. As part of the program, they equip homeless people with personal protective equipment, masks, and hand sanitizer in particular. They also pass out flyers issued by the LA County Department of Health, detailing safety precautions and the concept of social distancing.

Homelessness makes people vulnerable to a host of perils, which have become magnified during these unprecedented times of the Corona pandemic. It’s impossible for them to follow the “Safer at Home” protocol, or spend time indoors at any public places like libraries. Public restrooms are kept locked and they no longer have access to bottle filling stations and drinking fountains. There are also continuous crackdowns on overnight parking along the Highway.

Protecting the homeless from the virus means and measures are being taken to ensure that happens. There are about 150 homeless people that live in Malibu, according to the annual count, give or take.

John Maceri, CEO of The People Concern, thinks the homeless are trying their best to socially distance, but the encampments do not allow for the practice. Speaking to The Malibu Times, Maceri said he sees, “challenges for those living together in an encampment, because they’re not being monitored regularly.”

St. Joseph Center field doctors make weekly visits to the Malibu homeless, ensuring they are healthy and well.  

“The medical providers are still providing medical care,” Maceri confirmed. There have been no reports of any of the homeless testing positive.

When the states officially went in lockdown, The People Concern had to cut back on what they were able to do for the homeless, they are trying to make their limited workforce as effective as possible. 

“We have people [volunteers] in high vulnerability categories as well as parents that have to do homeschooling for their children,” he said. “That’s a big challenge, but we’re continuing to do the work in Malibu and moving forward.”

Other people in the community have come together to help as well, The churchgoers along with the NGO CART (Community Assistance Resources Team) provide lunches and dinners a few times a week to the homeless.

There are drive-through COVID-19 testing events that take place at City Hall. CART has arranged for homeless people to be able to walk through and get tested. CART is in the process of spreading the information to them so they can take advantage of the opportunity.

The meals that are provided are take away, which they can carry to a safe distance and eat. They provide masks as well so that interaction and congregation is as limited as possible.  

Project Roomkey is another program that is designed to help the disenfranchised, the homeless, and the unemployed alike. The project is a collaboration between the state, the county, and the LA Homeless Services Authority. The idea is to procure rooms in various motels and hotels across the county where homeless people that test positive can be quarantined. This will stem the spread of the disease, and also keep the service industry workers employed. FEMA will cover 75% of the cost. 

The Roomkey project is taking off slower than expected. Of the 15,000 rooms that could possibly be authorized for lease, only 2.700 have been so far. Of those, only 1,550 were occupied at the moment, according to a recent article in the LA Times.