Rodney Stanhope is used to sleeping in a tent on cold nights and struggling to find a hot meal. But now, the unsheltered Sacramento resident has a new burden to bear: The threat of coronavirus.
“This is where it’s going to spread the worst,” he said, referring to homeless encampments. “We now have nowhere to go.”
On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state. However, the order is complicated for people on the streets.
Newsom encouraged them to seek shelter. But services at nonprofits — including ones that offer shelter — have shrunk due to the hobbled economy and fears of spreading the virus.
Loaves and Fishes, a mainstay organization for the homeless located north of downtown Sacramento, is one of those organizations that has reduced some services.
“They’ve all scaled back," said Stanhope.
If people remain outdoors, Newsom has encouraged them to stay in camps of fewer than 10 people.
State and local governments are trying to move quickly. The city of Sacramento has installed handwashing stations near half a dozen encampments. Newsom’s administration is negotiating with hundreds of hotels to get people off the streets.
Stanhope says he’d take a hotel room over sleeping outside without a second thought. But he’s doubtful that those rooms will be available any time soon.
"Hopefully they do move fast, and we get some kind of solution from it or some kind of help from it," Stanhope said. "But, we’re still waiting for it.”
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify what services Loaves and Fishes is still providing during the stay at home order.
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