Stop LA Family Housing from Evicting Project Room Key Residents During Deadliest Month of COVID-19

Friday, January 29th, 2021

Dear Mayor Eric Garcetti,

LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl,

LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger,

LA City Council President Nury Martinez,

Heidi Marston, Executive Director of LAHSA,

Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, President and CEO, LA Family Housing,

My name is Rebecca and I am a resident living in the Airtel Plaza Hotel through Project Room Key. I was born in Mission Hills, raised in Pacoima, and live in Van Nuys, in Nury Martinez’s district, CD6.

This week, I received my eviction notice from LA Family Housing saying that I have to leave the hotel, and that my only options were to move to a congregate shelter in Hawthorne or return to the streets. I need to leave by this Sunday, January 31st if I am not willing to move into the congregated shelter they offered. No exceptions.

When I got the notice on my door, I was heartbroken and scared. I was also angry and hurt that LA Family Housing gave up on us with no place to go besides shelter. Many people, like myself, are afraid to go inside shelters. As an unhoused woman I have experienced violence and harassment from staff, but especially right now — I am afraid to go in because I do not want to risk getting COVID-19.

Shelters are not a safe option right now because of COVID. We were told that Project Room Key was there to keep us safe, but now they are trying to force us into a situation which could harm or kill us. Many of the Bridge Home Shelters are on lockdown due to COVID outbreaks. Unhoused people like myself are counting on non-congregate housing to keep us safe from COVID-19.

It is irresponsible for LA Family Housing to evict us at the end of the deadliest month of the pandemic.

Even worse is that they would evict us when there is an ACTIVE COVID outbreak going on at the Airtel Plaza RIGHT NOW. One resident’s housing navigator is not coming on site because of the risk. If this is true, then WHY would you close Project Room Key and force us to go to shelters, or out on the streets?

When I am evicted on Sunday, I will be forced back on to the street because I do not believe congregate shelters like the one they are offering is a safe option for any of us during the pandemic.

I am a proud latina mom from the valley who happens to be unhoused. It can happen to any one of us as so many of us in LA struggle to find work, pay our rent, and feed our families. No one should be getting evicted right now. So why are you evicting us? As unhoused people, we are no different than you.

I am fighting for my daughter and having a place to stay gives me a better opportunity to get her back when I go to court next month. Breaking these connections will be a major setback for me. It nearly guarantees that I won’t get her back.

I am fighting to stay in Project Room Key. Are you fighting to keep Project Room Key?

I am also fighting for my neighbors, and the other residents who share my concerns about COVID here at the Airtel Plaza and all remaining Project Room Key sites that are set to close in the coming month.

OUR DEMANDS

We, the remaining residents at the Airtel Plaza Hotel, demand to be allowed to shelter-in-place in a room.

We demand to re-negotiate with LA Family Housing to allow the residents to stay and extend Project Room Key until real options for housing are offered (not congregate shelter).

We demand that you allow the remaining residents to stay in the Airtel and keep Project Room Key open for the duration of the pandemic.

We demand that the city and county of Los Angeles expands Project Room Key and Home Key so more unhoused people can safely shelter-in-place and get permanent supportive housing. There is no shortage of hotels, which means there is no shortage of housing.

We demand no evictions during the pandemic.

There is a storm coming to LA this weekend.

4 unhoused people are dying every day.

LA has more deaths related to hypothermia than San Francisco or New York combined.

We deserve to live. Housing is a Human Right for all.

Please work with us to meet our demands and make sure that no one is evicted. We are waiting for your response.

Sincerely,

Residents at the Airtel Plaza

Fighting for Our Lives,

Our Families,

and the Right to Remain Housed During the COVID-19 pandemic

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Airtel Resident

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