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Open Access Publications from the University of California

We Do Not Forget: Stolen Lives of LA’s Unhoused During the COVID-19 Pandemic


This report, undertaken by the After Echo Park Lake research collective, was homework assigned by unhoused comrades, especially those who are part of UTACH, Unhoused Tenants Against Carceral Housing. While the stark reality of unhoused deaths has long been a matter of concern, the COVID-19 pandemic brought surprising new challenges. As the report shows, in addition to deaths on the street, there were also deaths in hotels and motels, including in the emergency housing program, Project Roomkey. A large proportion of hotel/motel deaths are attributed by the coroner to drug and alcohol overdoses, a finding in keeping with general trends in unhoused deaths. As the report argues, it is crucially important to understand such deaths as evidence of the dislocation and trauma caused by housing insecurity and displacement as well as by carceral isolation in shelter and emergency housing programs. Drawing on the organizing by UTACH, Unhoused Tenants Against Carceral Housing, the report amplifies the demand for unconditional and humane permanent housing.

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