'This is despicable': Sad story behind 'social distancing boxes' painted in car park

Josh Dutton
·News Reporter
·3-min read

Heartbreaking photos have emerged showing how hundreds of homeless people in Las Vegas have being affected by the outbreak of coronavirus.

The images show a temporary homeless shelter set up in a car park at Cashman Center medical facility.

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The parking lot is being used after a man at the Catholic Charities’ homeless shelter tested positive for COVID-19.

It’s left 500 people without overnight shelter after normally housing the homeless, immigrants and refugees.

People arrive at a temporary homeless shelter set up in a parking lot at Cashman Center in Las Vegas.
A check-in for the homeless looking to use a carpark to sleep in. Source: Getty Images

‘That is disgraceful’

Pictures of the set up, which is being facilitated by police and council, were shared on Twitter leaving people shocked at the conditions the homeless are being subjected to.

Lines on the ground show where they are allowed to sleep to ensure the homeless are following social distancing measures.

“That is disgraceful,” one man tweeted.

Another man simply called it “dystopian” while another questioned why the homeless weren’t at least given tents.

“Tents… just a small personal pup-tent and a woven plastic mat would make a world of difference,” he tweeted.

“My heart weeps for these people.”

Another man said “this is a despicable way to treat homeless people”.

“In what universe it this acceptable?” one woman tweeted.

Homeless people sit in painted squares at a Las Vegas carpark.
The lines ensure the homeless follow social distancing. Source: Getty Images

However, not everyone was critical of the makeshift car park shelter.

“You can't just put homeless people into hotels the same way you park a car,” one woman tweeted.

“The hotels would have to be cleaned and maintained, as well as provide security. Depending on squatters' laws, it might also be a nightmare to get them to leave. The problem isn't that simple.”

Another woman added people need to remember “homelessness is multi-layered and complex”.

“Many who are homeless suffer from terrible mental health illnesses including severe schizoaffective disorders, of either the delusional, paranoid, (or both) types,” she tweeted.

Homeless people lay out blankets in a parking lot at Cashman Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
People aren't impressed with the conditions the homeless are being subjected to. Source: Getty Images

‘Helping us feel secure’

Lisa Morris Hibbler, chief community services officer for the city of Las Vegas, told 8 News Now the area is open from 8pm until 6am daily.

Blankets and mats are laid down for the homeless and they’re disinfected daily.

A homeless woman, known as Denise, told 8 News Now she’s thankful to be able to use the carpark.

“This right here is helping us feel secure, feel safe. Other places, you don’t feel safe,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nevada, the state Las Vegas is in, currently has 920 cases.

Overall, the US has more than 140,000 cases and 2400 deaths.

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