The June issue of Parks & Recreation magazine is out now, and on today’s bonus episode of Open Space Radio, we’re diving deeper into one of this month’s feature stories, “Homelessness and the Global Pandemic,” which explores how the Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) is supporting people experiencing homelessness, among other vulnerable populations, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joining us on the show is the author of the article, Executive Officer & Chief of Staff at L.A. City Department of Recreation and Parks, Anthony-Paul (AP) Diaz. We chat with Diaz about how he and his staff are handling the pandemic and all the challenges that come along with it, as well as how RAP has been providing essential community services during this time.
Diaz discusses how RAP serves as the mass-care shelter and welfare arm of the city of Los Angeles during emergencies and how that has been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported there were nearly 60,000 people experiencing homelessness in L.A. County, which means that a large population of people doesn’t have a home they can go to in order to shelter-in-place. RAP quickly adapted and transformed many of their recreation centers and park spaces into homeless shelters — providing cots, blankets, towels, food, health screenings and protection, as well as connections to various community services, like social services and healthcare.
Additionally, we discuss:
- The transition plans RAP has put into place to ensure that people who are currently using the shelters receive proper attention and don’t fall through the cracks when the temporary shelters close
- How RAP has set up more than 500 trailers to support individuals who may need to self-quarantine
- The emergency childcare centers the city has set up
- How the city will use their current momentum to provide better access to parks and open spaces when the first phases of re-opening begin
- A heartwarming story of a how a father and son were reunited because of these new shelters
Tune in to the full episode below to learn more about the incredible work Diaz and RAP are doing to ensure people in Los Angeles are safe, healthy and have access to essential services during this time.