Homeless People Are Soaked, But L.A. Won’t Open Winter Shelters Until December

John Gunn looks into his tent on skid row after rain and hail soaked his belongings on Nov. 20, 2019. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

John Gunn looks into his tent on skid row after rain and hail soaked his belongings on Nov. 20, 2019. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Walter Smith was awakened on Wednesday morning by the rain. It poured in from above, through the tattered holes in the tent he had pitched in a downtown park, and seeped through the bottom, soaking his shirt, pants and socks.

“If you don’t wake up before it comes down hard, you gonna wake up soaking wet,” said Smith, a 56-year-old man with a hacking cough who said he has been homeless for three years. He fretted about where he would find more clothing to fit his burly frame — size 13 shoes and size 40 pants. “I cannot find a way to waterproof a tent.”

As storms, hail and chilling temperatures have descended on Los Angeles, tens of thousands of people who bed down on the streets are struggling to stay dry and warm.

The wet and chilly weather comes less than two weeks before the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is scheduled to launch its winter shelter program, which aims to give people more nighttime options as temperatures drop. LAHSA spokesman Ahmad Chapman said that “due to funding constraints, that program does not open until Dec. 1.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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