City Reverses Decision to Remove Washing Stations From Encampments Following L.A. TACO Investigation
“The recent uptick in cases led us to reevaluate our decision to remove all of the units as we explore an expansion of our PIT stop program,” Harrison Wollman, press secretary for L.A. Mayor Eric Garc
On Wednesday, L.A. City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas filed a motion to extend the program that brought hundreds of hygiene stations to homeless encampments during the pandemic until the end of the year. This comes roughly a month after the city abruptly removed the units as COVID-19 cases began to surge again in Los Angeles. And roughly two months after a 16 month long L.A. TACO investigation found that vendors failed to service units consistently, despite collecting millions of dollars in payments.
“This pilot program ended on June 30, 2021. Given the increase in COVID-19 infections, however, additional funding is now required to keep the YMCA shower program and the portable hygiene station programs open for the remainder of the calendar year.” The motion reads.
A week earlier, the city council backed an ordinance supported by Ridley-Thomas that restricts encampments near homeless shelters, daycares, libraries, and other public facilities. Critics of the ordinance say it further criminalizes the unhoused and leaves them with very few options regarding where they can legally reside.
Ridley-Thomas’ most recent motion calls for more than $650,000 to fund 150 hygiene stations (down from a peak of more than 500 units) and a little more than half a million dollars for seven showers at YMCA facilities from August 15 through December 31. According to Ariana Drummond, a communications deputy for Ridley-Thomas, “each council office will work with the Mayor’s Office of City Homeless Initiatives to prioritize sites.” Drummond told L.A. TACO in an email that each site will include one bathroom with a sink, one ADA-compliant restroom, and one handwashing station under the proposal.
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