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RVs, motor homes used for quarantine, homeless


LOS ANGELES – It looks like any holiday weekend: a fleet of motor homes filling the lot at Dockweiler State Beach, a popular destination for RVers.

But in this case, there are no happy families, smoking barbecues or coolers filled with beer and soft drinks. Rather, the units have a far more somber purpose: a place to quarantine people suspected of exposure to the coronavirus who either need to be separated from high-risk family members or who have no place else to go.

The recreational vehicle or RV – trailers and motor homes – may be a symbol of America’s love of the open road and the pleasure of getting away. But in recent months, this state has been putting them to work to solve serious social problems – first as a temporary solution to the burgeoning homeless problem and now as part of the war against COVID-19. 

The motor homes parked at Dockweiler, a stretch of asphalt for RVs where the din of jets taking off from Los Angeles International Airport can drown out the roar of the surf, were set up as an emergency measure by Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles County has brought recreational vehicles to Dockweiler State Beach as housing for people under quarantine for the coronavirus.

“We need places where people can be safely isolated from the public and even from their families,” said County Supervisor Janice Hahn in a statement. “We are using the Dockweiler RV Park for this purpose and we are actively identifying more sites like it for quarantine and isolation housing across the county.” 

The beach location is only the start. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week that the state is obtaining 1,309 travel trailers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and private companies to house the homeless to try to protect them from COVID-19. The trailers are being deployed to different cities around the state under a $50 million program that also includes hotel vouchers.

“People experiencing homelessness are among the most vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19,” Newsom said in a statement. “California is deploying massive resources to get these vulnerable residents safely into shelter.”

A worker walks by motor homes being prepared to house people under quarantine for the coronavirus. The RVs were brought to Dockweiler State Beach in Los Angeles to take care of people who can't be near others until it is determined if they have the virus.

While the RV industry is built around leisure, motor homes and trailers have long had a serious side, whether it has been serving as a police command post during an emergency or as mobile offices at construction sites. Hundreds of trailers served as temporary homes after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“During times of disaster, state and local agencies have used RVs to aid as local command centers, portable offices, temporary housing and other critical uses,” said RV Industry Association President Craig Kirby in a statement.



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