NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While most New Yorkers are just now venturing out into the city, Lala Moreno has been sleeping on the streets for months during the coronavirus pandemic.
She has been living with a compromised immune system.READ MORE: Search On For Driver Of Car That Killed Pedestrian, 52, In Brooklyn
“I’m scared one moment something bad can happen and my immune system will crash,” said Moreno in an interview with CBS2’s Elise Preston.
But Moreno still feels safer spending the night on a tiny stretch of sidewalk than in a dormitory-style shelter. The advocacy group Coalition For The Homeless says the coronavirus death rate for New Yorkers in shelters is 61% higher compared to New Yorkers with homes.
The organization also says unsheltered homeless, like Moreno, may face an even greater risk of dying. And many groups that provide help are temporarily shut down or not able to operate normally.
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Doctors Without Borders teamed up with the Salvation Army in New York City to offer showers to those in need. Organizations across the country are getting creative in an effort to provide resources like showers, meals and places for people to sleep during the pandemic.READ MORE: Suffolk County Police Officer In Critical Condition After Being Stabbed By Suspect Following Crash
“A few people have told me this is the first shower they’ve had in two or three weeks,” said Eric Schmidt from Doctors Without Borders. It feels good to be able to provide it, but we shouldn’t have gotten here.”
Officials in New York, Houston and Los Angeles secured hotel rooms for some homeless residents. San Francisco has designated safe sleeping sites and open air encampments that encourage social distancing. In Atlanta, Georgia, the Lost and Found Youth Shelter like many across the country, spaced out beds to keep people as far away from each other as possible.
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“We’re allowing everybody to stay and not asking anybody to leave unless they get into another more long term program or find a permanent place to stay,” Nasheedah Muhammad, from the Lost and Found Shelter.
Back in New York, Moreno is focusing on the here and now and is cautiously optimistic about what tomorrow may bring.MORE NEWS: 12-Year-Old Shot In Brooklyn Remains Hospitalized, Police Searching For Gunman
“I’m still alive, I’m still breathing,” said Moreno.