by Greg Foisie

Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 1 – One Sanctuary from COVID-19 – Meet the Heroes at Green Meadows Shelter in Los Angeles – 04-19-2020 [UPDATED 05-12-2020]

[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


The City of Los Angeles is at war with COVID-19.  Here at the Green Meadows Shelter, the Novel Coronavirus comes to die.


On January 30th 2020 the World Health Organization’s Director-General proclaimed the Novel Coronavirus illness named COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).  This disease is far more deadly than the common flu.  It is a new disease that humanity as a whole has not developed immunity towards.  The virus targets the lower respiratory tract and other organs, and appears to induce clotting as well.  Initially children were thought to be resistant to it, but now new illness are appearing in children that may be related effects of the Coronavirus. There is no known vaccine to protect against it.  This disease is rapidly spreading around the world.


Three months later, the USA had become the world’s epicenter of the pandemic.  Having less than 5% of the world’s population, the US currently has over 32% of the world’s documented COVID-19 cases.  To date, our 1,360,000 confirmed cases (we don’t know the true number of cases due to our completely inadequate testing for the virus) have resulted in over 80,574 deaths, and we are expected to top 100,000 deaths by June, 2020.


On April 15th, 2020 the US hit its highest daily death toll rate to date of 200 deaths per hour, or 2,400 deaths within a 24 hour period.  On April 16th, this death rate doubled, to 4,591 resident fatalities within 24 hours.

As of May 18th, Los Angles County Department of Public Health reports

37,974 confirmed cases and 1,821 deaths from COVID-19.


The state of California has 78,839 confirmed cases and 3,261 deaths.  Total confirmed Coronavirus cases around the world are 5 million (4,786,672) in number

with approximately 317,695 recorded deaths.


Angelenos – remember these names: Director – Mrs. Alea Douglas; Coordinator – Shannon William; Night Shift – Luncindy & Elizabeth; and Staff – Paige, Mary, Jaywn, Aaron, Veronica, Cesar, Kandice, Manny & Montanis – these hard workers are some of the many City of Los Angeles employees and contractors – along with a multitude of nurses, officers, and other staff – who are placing their lives at risk every day protecting about a hundred souls without habitable accommodations, resources, and incomes from the devastation of COVID-19 at a shelter called Green Meadows in South Central Los Angeles.

In this battle we have two kinds of heroes – the survivors and the providers.  The survivors are those who are homeless or experience poor health conditions and who are at most risk of infection by COVID-19. The protocols of social distancing, mask wearing, & hand washing are luxuries that are not accessible for many of those without shelter.  We are people whose circumstances force us to live in close quarters on the street.  These survivors battle such deadly conditions against all odds, and somehow manage to defeat it.  The providers are the workers like those mentioned above, who literally risk their lives to help others come out on top.


My name is Greg.  Around the shelter I am in I can be referred to as “J3” or “veggie.”  I am a student at California State University Los Angeles, and have lived in Los Angeles in my car for many years while attending school.  This lifestyle is not particularly comfortable and it is not by choice.  This is the only way I can sustainably afford to go to school.


The virus shut down my university’s entire publically-accessible infrastructure for all of its 25,000 students – as all of the 23 California State Universities were forced to go on-line.  Then, when I lost my ability to work due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the shelter-in-place orders, I found myself without the resources I required to continue my education.


No longer having any income, hot water, bathroom facilities, or a place to study with access to the internet (closed are all of my favorite coffee houses), I reached out and was offered the last bed on the day I arrived in this City of Los Angeles shelter located in South Central Los Angeles.


On March 18th, 2020, City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city would provide 6,000 new beds for those without LA housing by converting 42 of its recreation centers into temporary shelters.  I am now a resident in this recreation center set up by the City of LA in South Central to be a temporary COVID-19 shelter called Green Meadows. Green Meadows is one of these emergency shelters helping those without incomes and a home in the city to reside temporarily during this pandemic.


I have led a rather unorthodox lifestyle, living communally for many years and often travelling by hostelling, where one sleeps in dorms from 6 – 12 people at nights.  The shelter experience is significantly different.  I imagine it is more reminiscent of the experience of being together in the underground tube bunkers in London, England during the Blitz, where a commonly-shared, deadly threat and fate served as bonds between people.


Walking into Green Meadows is like walking into an arena – one’s sense of privacy evaporates.  The main building is a huge basketball gym – designed with no permanent spectator seating.  It reminds me of an immense shoebox built of concrete blocks set between the sidewalk of East 89th Street, and the city park and high school just to its north.


I have met a number of people who have visited several of these newly-created shelters, and they told me that Green Meadows is “the best” shelter they have seen.  Here’s why.


This Green Meadows gym is part of the large Rec & Park system across the city that has been entirely closed to the public by the authorities – many of their resources being turned into shelters.  Other facilities are set up on the site that provide a reception area, kitchen, Health Services and Animal Housing, and portable showers. An out building offers rest rooms.  Fair warning: if used at night, make sure to use a paper toilet seat cover, because that stainless steel toilet seat is cold!


This entire facility is new and kept immaculately clean.  Almost all the staff there – nurses, servers, office clerks, maintenance – are dressed in bright, white, puffy jump suits.  Most of the staff also wear white shoe coverings, white gloves and white masks.  Each of them look like the Michelin Man.  The security guards are the sole exception – they are always dress completely in black.


Every inch of its entire gym floor is completely covered by a huge bright blue nylon tarp patched together by vulcanized seams and painters tape. This inside of the entire facility is emptied for a couple of hours every day – usually noon through 2:00 m – and is thoroughly cleaned by its staff from top to bottom.  Resident volunteers have offered some help for this task as well, and it makes us feel good to do so.  Even the concrete courtyard in between the buildings comprising this facility is entirely bleached and washed in the middle of the night.


There is room for about 60 people to reside in Green Meadows.  Virtually all of us rest on beds set up 6 and a half feet apart in all directions within the main gym facility.  About two thirds of the guests are men (in 38 beds) and one third women (in 22 beds ) – separated by a single line of wide red duct tape laid across the width of the floor, accentuated now by large fluorescent orange and bright white pylons interlocked with black and yellow stripped bars.  There are no children to be seen in this facility.


Within this wide open space that resembles a huge military barracks, the staff have managed to create a friendly, supportive environment for those of us who have been struggling to live during these hard times. The cordial reception workers offer us has given us hope and encouragement to carry on.


Cots are marked by large numbers taped to the floor, and large letters taped to the walls create isles.  Organizing about a hundred total strangers is no mean feat, and it is accomplished with a military-like precision that leaves no stone unturned.  And all of this is done with a smile.


There are lots of rules here: no drugs, alcohol, weapons, or smoking.  The park itself has many old rules still in effect.  New pandemic regulations stipulate no sports other than “passive sports.” Signs in the shelter reminding people to social distance and wash hands abound. On April 22nd, after a number of transgressions the previous night, a list of new rules were handed to reach resident, including, “No Stealing – do not touch others property,” “Daily showers are mandatory,” “Keep your bed area clean at all times (No Food),” and “Do not hang in anyone else’s bed area (i.e. do not stand over anyone while sleeping). The list was qualified: “Shelter rules are subject to change without notice.”


This place is a buzz of activity. There are rigorous schedules that are adhered to simultaneously without fail every day.  Upon intake, every resident is assigned a new cot and mattress, new blankets and pillows as needed, and container for their belongings.  Meal schedules are posted.  New opportunities for assistance are shouted by staff across the spacious hall as they become available.  A large screen TV in one corner of the gym blares action movies and comedies across the gym’s wide expanse throughout the day. When gym lights are on, it is like being shone upon by twenty brilliant suns.


At Green Meadows we are all required to wear masks.  This gym is like Zorro Com.  We all sign a roster daily, disclosing our anonymity. Those who have stayed longest have graduated from the thin paper masks (Mike noted they hurt our ears) to new, cloth masks bearing a prominent label testifying, “Made in the USA.”


Going from bed to bed or in the six foot-spaced meal line, the residents’ temperatures are taken 3 times a day by our cordial Michelin Men women nurses who provide additional medical services to residents as required.  If any resident is found to have a high temperature, they are immediately assigned to isolation in Health Services.  Kept separate and apart form the rest of us, their condition is closely monitored. During my first week of stay, a couple of our friends have left Green Meadows by ambulance.


There is a full maintenance & service crew here helping everyone as well who are present and working 24/7, along with police presence during certain times of the day. A doctor is now coming to visit residents too.


This place spares no support.  It makes one feel good to be here – like people really care about you.


A lot of the love shown to us by the City of Los Angeles is in the form of physical assistance that we really need.  Almost all of us are currently not working.  People are fed three meals a day; given new towels & clean, used clothes as needed; provided with free coffee & snacks throughout the day; and offered free laundry & internet services, microwave oven access and hot, 15 minute showers (tickets required – including piped in Top 40!) as well.  There is also a food pick-up service a couple of blocks away that the residents here access.


We are well taken care of, to say the least.  After a few days, I was even provided vegetarian meals as I am a veggie!  There is truly an abundance of love at Green Meadows!


Here we abide by a strict curfew.  If we travel about during the day, we must arrive at the gym end by 7:30 pm. Seven days a week – between 8:00 pm and 8:00 am –– residents are required to remain in the gym unless they must use the bathroom.  All outdoor smoking breaks must end around 9:30 pm, pronto.  When the lights are turned out at 10:00 pm, complete darkness envelopes the large hall, save for a small hall light at the gym’s main entrance. Security is round the clock.


Outside curfew hours, people are free to come and go as they wish.  If a resident plans on leaving the gym/park area, they are required to sign in and out.  If a person breaks curfew, they miss getting their temperature getting taken.  In order to not risk the medical safety of other residents, the person missing a curfew may forfeit their place to stay in Green Meadows.


As one lives with strangers over time, people get to know each.  We begin to become acquainted.  The similarity in our experience serves as a bond of sorts.  People demonstrate care for each other in small ways, like sharing microwave popcorn, pizza, extra commissary, fruit, fried chicken, or even passing along a “new” set of used clothes or brand new sandals.  Three individuals have provided ice cream to everyone in the shelter in three occasions.  Many residents are adept barbers and are armed with clippers, giving great haircuts to their comrades.  We are all waiting together for a turn in our fortune, and being caring of each other during the process.


COVID-19 is hard on everybody, and people get stressed out from time to time.  As Henry said, it is not just the disease, but the entire set of severe restrictions we all face that wear people down.  The past few days there have been a couple of people getting upset, or causing other people to get upset at them, and they have been asked to leave.  Reasons for dismissal may include activities like getting intoxicated, fighting, taking people’s stuff, or spitting at or in other ways disrespecting others.  Generally, everyone here has been very friendly – especially the staff, their director, and older residents.


A city work crew came to Green Meadows one morning last week.  Within the day they had encircled the entire gym’s public parking lot with temporary chain link fencing and gates.  I was really impressed at how efficient they were because it was a big and demanding undertaking.  This renovation is taking place at other sites around the city as well.  It is a part of the city’s effort to provide additional residences at shelters by bringing in FEMA trailers where residents can bunk.  The trailers at Green Meadows are already in place, and soon will be ready for business.


On April 14th the center director told us about the new Angelino’s Card program set up by the mayor’s office.  It is like a one-time gift/debit card, with funds from about $700 to $1,500 available per very low income household for those who qualify.  I have one of the few lap tops here, and that day I volunteered all day long to try to get Green Meadows people access to the pre-application process – both on-line and on the phone – to no avail.  After one whole day with no success, I finally got access to the Angelino Card website mid day.  We began the application process for a couple of dozen residents of Green Meadows Shelter that lasted two days.


The Angelino Card program is not paid for by tax dollars.  $10,000,000 dollars is being sought to pay for this card program from donations. This is just another example of how caring the City of Los Angeles is in this time of desperate need.


The City of LA has a population of 4,000,000 & the card program is set up to help 20,000 of its most needy low income folks max, or about 5% of its population.  It is reported that close to half a million people applied for the Angelino Card in three days – almost the same number of people that might contract the Coronavirus in the region.  If everyone in LA gave $2.50 to the mayor’s fund, the first goal of the program would be paid for!  If more money is raised, it is possible the program can be expanded.


Many of the people at Green Meadows Shelter are hoping they can receive funds through the program, which is now set up as a lottery amongst qualifying applicants due to the overwhelming demand.  Given the huge demand, from all of the qualified applicants one will have about a one-in-twenty chance of winning a card.  People can donate to the program at




[Greg Foisie is a graduate student at California State University Los Angeles.  His uncle was Jack Foisie, former war correspondent for the Los Angeles Times for over a quarter of a century.  Greg’s father – Jack’s younger brother – was foreign desk editor of the Washington Post, executive editor of the International Herald Tribune in Paris, and first ombudsman of the Stars and Stripes – the US military’s newspaper where Jack first worked as a reporter. The Post and the Times created a foreign news service – still in existence to this day.]



Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 2: Quarantined in a FEMA trailer in South Central LA during the COVID-19 Pandemic


[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


To My California State University Los Angeles Professors   05-01-2020

Thanks to you all for your patience.  I hope it can be maintained as I struggle with my predicament here.  My chair has expressed interest in my situation, and I thought you all deserved to know what is going on with me.


My academic studies are all that I do here at the Green Meadows Shelter, save for helping others in need.  Even though I have lost my job & living requirements due to the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders from the state, county & city, as a white student with savings I have many more resources than most people here.


I am hoping to be allowed to work until the end of the term in order to complete all of my CSULA assignments so that I get enough time to do so.  If not, I wish to ask for an extension for my studies from the university.  Currently it is my intent to complete my studies if I can.


I am taking the time off my studies to write this explanation because I have lost access to the internet for the time being.


During the CSULA zoom conferencing, I see many students who express boredom, living in homes without masks, some drinking to pass the time.  This in not my experience at all – far from it.


I am in a City of Los Angeles Rec & Park Coronavirus shelter overseen by the Public Health Nurse Supervisor for the Area Health Office of West and South Los Angeles – Service Planning Area 6 that is directed by the Martin Luther King Jt. Center for Public Health.  It is like a war zone here of sorts.  People are afraid.  Many shelter residents are nervous and some act out.  Everything is tightly controlled.  There are many rules and they are strictly enforced.


Two days ago this entire place was quarantined because one resident was diagnosed with COVID-19 (people were allowed to come and go before – not anymore).  Not only that – our quarantine has its previous curfew that is strictly enforced.  It is like living in a cage that is within another cage.  We are a group of about one hundred people who must wear face masks at all times here and always stay always 6 feet apart.  Boredom is overshadowed by fear.


Before the quarantine, people could leave during the day and go anywhere they wished, as long as they returned at 7:30 pm for the temperature tests.  Now they cannot leave the shelter grounds.  Even our most steadfast and friendly residents who broke this rule and went to the stores for food have been removed.  Instead, shelter staff  now take people’s orders, and get extra food for them once or twice a day.  To me this seems to be really incredible service from shelter staff for the residents – above and beyond the call of duty.


Along with other older shelter residents who have chronic illnesses, I have been moved from the shelter proper into a trailer park that has been built by the city and FEMA within the perimeter of shelter grounds, immediately adjacent to the gym where I was before.


In the shelter gym I was known as  “J3.”  In the shelter’s trailer park, I am “T6.”  Everywhere I am called “veggie,” as I am one of the few vegetarians here.  Remarkably, as one of about 100 people, the shelter administration and staff somehow manage to cater to my dietary needs.


The trailers are like a community in exile.  Trailer residents are allowed to visit the shelter for specific needs between the hours of 8 am and 7:30 pm.  With the quarantine the scheduling has been increasingly become more restricted.  For example, now people living in the shelter are only allowed for smoke breaks once every two hours, instead of whenever they please.  These new restrictions may be because many of us were not taking social distancing, mask wearing and washing hands seriously, even after knowing we were all exposed to COVID-19.


Just outside the chain link fence perimeter that encloses the trailers, there is a large park where I see many people from the general public living life as if it is normal (all City of Los Angeles and County of Los Angeles parks have been officially closed to the public for weeks, except for passive recreation).  The majority of these people are socializing in close proximity to each other: arguing, playing, talking, just hanging out – not social distancing, not wearing masks, coughing into their hands, etc.  We are all in the midst of a pandemic, and I believe these people are playing with fire.


During the day there are dogs barking, the ever-present ice cream truck and their music box melodies selling sweet deserts to children, all ensconced within LA’s beautiful weather with its bright blue skies (less smog now) and warm sunshine.  At night there are often fireworks and numerous gun shots heard, lots of screeching cats and car tires, and the ever present circling of helicopters.


It is like living a surreal, dystopian, Orwellian dream.  Inside the fence I am safe, guarded by security night and day.  I am provided all that I need to live and stay well – to the point of being pampered.  Outside the fence I face contracting an illness that might prove fatal for me due to my age and chronic condition.


My most pressing needs are safety and internet access that enables me to finish my studies.  At night trailer residents cannot go to the shelter itself.  If we do go there outside of curfew we face expulsion from this facility and all similar city projects.  Our identities are logged into a database by the city for Coronavirus support in LA.


The internet I use is located inside the shelter.  Now residing in a trailer, my access is limited.  Last night for the first time, my trailer access to the internet – which is only at night when the others are asleep, and at best weak and intermittent – was discontinued.  My computer’s diagnostics say that I must move closer, that the router needs to be rebooted, and that I am getting interference.  [UPDATE – Today I found out the shelter administration’s office internet was also out, and that the entire city administration is also having internet problems.  Now I have joined the second and last available router in the shelter.]


Moving from the shelter has been an added blessing, despite poor internet access.  In the trailer I have a sense privacy with my own individually-assigned space and a table and place to sit I do not have to share with 60 other people, as I did in our monstrous, huge single bedroom we held in common (“We’re all in this together!”).  In the trailer there is no screaming, no constant motion of people walking back and forth, and no incessant high volume of action movie soundtracks to contend with all the time.)


At the same time, the sense of privacy living in a Green Meadows trailer is short-lived.  This space is not our own.  We are only guests here.  The trailer door receives knocks frequently throughout each day, as many staff inquire on our well-being, or provide mandated services that are a part of the established routine.


My trailer door does not lock from the inside, and I assume that is the case for the other trailers here as well.  Soon-to-be written contractual obligations specify that the administration has the right and obligation to intervene on our affairs as they deem necessary for any number of reasons.


If we are asked to leave Green Meadows, it is not a request – it is an order.  A constant police presence ensures such measures are enforced.


Using the internet here is like balancing on the tip of a pin.  There are many forces that have to be aligned for access to occur:  being in or out of curfew; the disposition of the security guard who happens to be on duty; how far I am away from the router; how many of the 100 people at the shelter are using the internet at any given moment; and now router rebooting needs and commercial internet providers interference with my signal.


The administrators of the shelter – Ms. Douglas and Mr. Shannon – have been very supportive of my schoolwork so far.


Last night I had a dream where I was in a very crowded and busy bus station.  I was very tired in the dream and fell asleep within the dream while sitting outside on a curb.  When I woke up in the dream, all of my belongings were stolen out of my knap sacks, including my computer, thumb drives, external drive backup, and all of my academic work.  I was running around the bus terminal in a panic, seeking help, when I really woke up.  …



Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 3 – Living Under Shelter Quarantine During the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic


[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


Dear family and friends – 05-02-2020


I am still amazed at the wonderful care we are provided here in the Green Meadows Shelter in Los Angeles, California.  Equally amazing is how genuinely kind and caring most people are here towards each other.  I have been here a few weeks, and it seems like months.  I have gotten to know and like many different people a great deal – people I would normally not have had the chance to become acquainted with.  We are friends, and greet each other every day.


These friendships seem genuine.  After getting to know each other over a month or so, people continue their associations.  For those who decide to leave the shelter for whatever reason, they often return to the vicinity, and hang out with all of their comrades in the park grounds surrounding the shelter.  They are together for long periods for days on end, picnicking, poking fun at each other and laughing, drinking, telling stories, barbecuing, or just resting.


There is a pretty significant turnover here.  At least two people that I knew of at the shelter had to be separated from the rest of us because they had fevers.  They were eventually taken away by ambulance.  For others, they are no longer here because they broke the rules one has to follow to be a shelter occupant.  Then again, others simply leave.


One elderly gentleman was functionally blind.  He could not see to plug in his adapter to the power bar in broad daylight, and we would get up several times in the middle of the night to help him navigate the long trail to the men’s rest room.  He has left our midst.  You get to know someone a little bit, hanging out and sleeping a few feet from them, and then suddenly they are gone.


Across from my former shelter bunk there is an older man who has been here the whole time I have been here.  He rarely speaks, and then only when spoken to.  When talking, he only talks in a quiet whisper, and only uses a few words at a time.  He strikes me as being a very gentle and kind soul.


He spends quite a bit of his time laying on his cot and reading a very worn pocket-book copy of the New Testament.  At times he stands up and strikes out at an imaginary presence with his fists.  At other times he makes continuous clicking sounds, as if to console himself from some source of discomfort.  I like him.


Upon occasion people get upset with each other, and then their very loud arguments fill this large space with shouted accusations and denunciations that resonate to every corner of this basketball gym.  These may be brief outbursts, or confrontations that last for minutes at a time.  These do not occur often, and they usually resolve themselves.  It is probably a way of releasing tensions we all feel.


In the most egregious incident and single one of its kind, one young man punched a security guard and knocked his front teeth out.  Both of them are no longer with us.  Some people collect things off the street and place those belongings all around their beds, and most of those people have departed.


There is one couple leaving today whose presence I really enjoyed.  The gentleman was older, his companion younger.  They were always kind to each other, and seemed to really enjoy each other’s company.  He was often cleaning up the shelter, and going through our trash to collect recyclable materials.  Now quarantined, going outside the grounds is not allowed.  They were both removed to another shelter today by an ambulance that took them and their many bags of possessions away.  I was told they had broken the rules, in part by “being rowdy” and for going to the local corner store and bringing back to the shelter lots of ice and inebriants.


One older man was asked to leave because he was high on some drugs and getting into people’s hair.  The police had to come and escort him off the premises.  Then we have our street preacher – a very nice man fluent in both English and Spanish – who finds himself directly connected to God from time to time.  He intermittently gives spontaneous sermons.  He believes that the onset of the pandemic is somehow connected to the abuse of money in the world.


Since I was relocated to the trailers, my acquaintance Mike told me that our friend Frank has left to return to Louisiana.  Henry, the medical coder and former break dancer, left for 2 days to be with his grandmother in San Diego who is dying, and then he returned.


Previously, people were able to leave for days at a time, leaving all of their possessions, and then return to their beds.  It has been rumored that some leave for emergencies, and others leave to visit crack houses.


Before the quarantine, a few people snuck in marijuana and beers into the shelter.  Both are against the rules here as drugs are not allowed here, save for the ever present freely-provided coffee and tobacco.


Smoking cigarettes is a favorite past time amongst residents, and there are the constant requests for them, for rolling papers, and for lighters.  People can only smoke outside the shelter in the park next to us.


I have noticed a number of men here have numerous, deep, circular lesions all over their lower legs, and the tops and soles of their feet – some have the same all over their upper bodies.  Others are very restless, and my friends say they are on or have been on stimulants, and should just be left to themselves.


There is a lot of swearing here all the time, and a lot of gangster rap played on cell phones and boom boxes.  Quite a large percentage of us are recently out of prison.


There is an abundance of genuine generosity and sharing between people, as we help each other out a lot.  It seems the shelter environment is a kind of stopping off point for people, where we are trying to figure out where we are in life, and what our next steps will be,


While many shelter residents keep pretty much to themselves, there is also a lot of constant laughter and joking in the shelter.  This has been a very good influence on me, as I often forget how to laugh.  It feels really good to me, and I am thankful for this influence.


If people get a laugh out of other’s misappropriate behavior, or are listening to rap that degrades women and is overtly violent, I may be moved to tell them I feel that stuff is a bad influence.  Some people accommodate my displeasure – others let me know that is only my opinion and I should mind my own business.  We all have different temperaments and backgrounds here, yet we manage to get along really well together.


When I was moved to help folks apply for the Angelino Cards because I had a computer and they did not have one, that act of caring made me a lot of friends who thanked me for the assistance.  In turn, residents here have been most generous to me as well in many ways.  The sharing we have is reciprocal, and I believe it is demonstrative of real friendship.


Given our circumstances, I was compelled to give others a hand with the lap top – not because I wanted to be a good guy, but because the situation demanded it be done, and because it was the right thing to do.  I am told a few people have gotten checks already.


We are not prisoners at Green Meadows Shelter.  Before the quarantine, all a person had to do to leave was to walk out the door, and let security know they are leaving. Now we are requested to not leave under any circumstances until the quarantine is over.  I assume this is to make sure none of us come down with symptoms until the 14 day virus incubation period has lapsed.


If we leave, it means we leave behind all the generous care we receive every day when we are here.  We gain freedom and perhaps the chance to seek a living, but most of us also embrace the precariousness of living life on the streets during these troubling times, and being more exposed to the virus than we would be otherwise.


I suppose the quarantine is just as much a service to the city as a whole, as it is to ourselves.  For those of us exposed to the virus, it allows us to determine if we indeed have been affected, and receive corresponding medical support.  For the city, it means that there are not more time bombs walking around, carrying and infecting others with a potentially deadly virus that cannot be seen, felt, tasted or smelled.


A few years ago I helped Occupy Venice feed people on the streets, after my volunteering every Sunday at the Arlington West Memorial on Santa Monica Beach with Veterans for Peace.  I did this for about half a year before I went back to school.  I really enjoyed doing it – working with others collectively and creating something that was a genuine expression of caring.  It has been one of my most favorite things to do here in LA, and I understand that it might have been technically against the law.  However, the police who were sometimes present during our “potlucks,” never stopped us from offering food to the public in Venice Beach.


Before going to the memorial, I would often go to the dollar store and buy 4 or 5 medium-sized watermelons at a buck each.  When Occupy Venice was preparing the meal, I would cut the melons up into slices and then give about 200 people a slice of watermelon.  Those receiving our food were always pleased and very thankful for our efforts.  I made me feel really good to help out in this way.  I was also very disappointed our society could not find the means to do more to help those in need.


There I was – working part time (earning between $3,500 & $5,200 a year max) – living off my savings and out of my car – and feeding two hundred people a delicious bite to eat every week.  Meanwhile our huge metropolitan region, in one of the world’s largest economies with a state budget of over twenty billion dollars in its Discretionary General Spending Fund, could not find the means to assist thousands of people sustain the basic necessities of life.  How different my experience is now, where the City of Los Angeles is doing a magnificent job caring for my newfound friends and myself.


I was really concerned about many of the street people I met during that time.  Some people were fine, just making ends meet and figuring out how to move ahead in life.  But other people seemed that their minds were simply completely gone, because they had significant problems in caring for themselves and relating to other people.  Many folks could not control their emotions, and they would frequently get into fights with other people.  Our intervention as the Occupy group was always one of de-escalation.


At the shelter, there are several street people here who are vey adept at interacting with those expressing distress and anger.  Their demeanor when intervening is one of being up front and in your face without being confrontational – just being strong but respectful and kind to the other person who expresses displeasure or anger – showing empathy but not putting the other person down.


It seems other shelter residents acknowledge this style of interaction as being appropriate in this environment.  This style of intervention usually gets the job done relatively quickly, and then people go on their way.  There have only been a couple of major outbursts in the weeks I have been in the shelter.  They have usually occurred over items borrowed and not returned, or people bothering others by being too inquisitive, too insistent, or too physically close to them.


All in all, having so many people being confined for so long, we have done well in passing the time peaceably.  It seems that everyone is hoping for a quick resolution to our quarantine situation here at Green Meadows Shelter, to officially end on May 14, 2020.




Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 4 – The City of Los Angeles Caring for the Homeless During the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic


[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


Dear family and friends – 05-04-2020


What one hears on East 89th Street are passing cars and airplanes, car alarms, mocking birds, sirens, and helicopters – lots of them – all day and all night.


The air is crisp and cool this evening.  It has been unseasonably chilly the past three weeks for April and May in LA.  It’s been reported that the Coronavirus does not like warm weather, so this part of California may still be its home.


During weather like we’ve had today, it is hard to realize that Los Angeles has the nation’s greatest ozone pollution.  It is also hard to come to terms with the fact that a virus that cannot be seen, tasted or smelled has killed about 70,000 people in the USA over the last few months.


During this tragedy, when many of us will lose our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and brothers and sisters, the City of Los Angeles has launched a valiant effort to save as many souls as it can.  And it appears its main effort is to help those who need help the most – those without viable shelter or resources – those living on the streets in tents or in cars – those who are elderly or chronically ill – those who need help caring for themselves – those recently released from prison who do not have a home.


One might think that such people would be stacked into warehouses with little resources to support them, and left to their own devices.  This assumption would be way off the mark from truth.  In reality, the City of Los Angeles is going above and beyond board, taking care of us here at Green Meadows in a manner that is hard to  believe.


Our every need is considered and accommodated within the restrictions of our many rules.  We are helped in every way that can be imagined.  As we are in quarantine due to exposure to COVID -19, the shelter staff often run errands for us several times a day.  Showers are provided.  Our laundry is taken care of.  A big screen TV entertains us every second of the day outside of our curfew.


This generosity is contagious.  Many shelter residents support and take care of each other in turn in many small ways every day.  People are sharing smokes, clothes and small food items.  Sometimes they share contraband. Playing dominoes  and card games are favorite pastimes.  One gets to know a lot of people here very quickly.


So much kindness is offered to us – from trying to adjust one person’s medical insurance so that it will cover their needs at this location, to offering the shelter’s address as the resident address of shelter inhabitants so they can apply for services, to printing out a student’s study guides for that student over the internet.


The administrators and staff have been some of the most gracious and kind people I have ever met.  And they are doing it under conditions that threaten life itself.  They could be safe by sheltering in their own homes, yet they have chosen to share our predicament at Green Meadows.


The imminent threat of illness at our door is ever present, and great care is being taken in an attempt to secure the health if the collective here.  One nice couple – just a few of us for whom English is not their primary language – are in isolation.  They are not symptomatic of COVID-19 by displaying soaring temperatures (every residents here has their temperature taken by nurses three times a day), but they are suspected of having flu-like symptoms.  It is sad to see them all alone, and more so since the kind gentleman was bitten by a dog on his way to a corner store just a few days ago, adding depravation to injury.


It is unfortunate that wherever apples are stored, sometimes there may be a few bad ones in the barrel.  Last night and today there have been complaints about stolen property.  Aaron was forced to stride through our massive bedroom for 60 this morning, reminding our collective consciousness that theft will not be tolerated in his booming voice.  Those found taking the belongings of others will be banned from this shelters and all other shelters run by the city.


At times, residents have thought that items of theirs were stolen, only to later discover that those items were misplaced.  I hope this is again the case.


A number of us converse in very loud voices as a matter of course.  And also as a matter of course, the volume of our voices raise significantly when we become excited or have a matter of importance to announce.  So it is that the air of often shaken by loud discourse.  In this basketball gym, it is like a person yelling with excitement as if a basketball game was in full swing.  Unfortunately, all we have are 60 cots, lined in military fashion 6 ½ feet from each other in every direction, filling up this space we call home.


We do not have a water cooler in Green Meadows, per se.  There are water fountains as one enters the gym, but most popular the past few days have been the stacks and stacks of Anheuser-Busch-canned water provided by the Red Cross.  Our watering hole has taken the form of the one small microwave that stands all alone at the very end of the gym on one table there.  This table also serves as the spot to watch entertainment on one’s phone, practice typing for the medical coding profession, or, in my case, doing your homework.


The most unique conversations can occur here.  Today, a young lady talked at length about her interest in studying psychology, making friends, reminiscing about past life experiences and imagining her future.  Yesterday, a young man from Tennessee recounted his world adventures travelling to Japan, Guam and the Philippines, hoping to return to the last destination to reunite with his fiancé.  All of us have our plans and dreams placed on hold as our quarantine drags on for another eleven days.


This pandemic will eventually subside.  When it does, the regions will once again face the stark reality of homelessness that has been with Southern California for generations.  If the counties and state can manage to put as much effort into housing those homeless as it has put into saving our lives, the region will finally realize an effective way to cope with this most substantial problem.


The experts already know what has to be done to eliminate homelessness.  I asked them.  They were meeting in Santa Monica where a nonprofit in that manages over 1,000 rental units.  The experts were very clear and direct about what is needed.  Three things: OBTAIN – MAINTAIN – SUSTAIN.  Tons of affordable housing must be built.  Residents must have the skills to properly maintain their residencies.  Renters must acquire and keep the means of sustaining reasonable rent payments.  This is how homelessness can be solved.


Let’s not replicate Chicago’s mistake in Los Angeles.  Chicago built dozens of huge pubic housing projects around the 50s.  Half a century later they tore them all down.  Without proper education, skill development, and similar supports for inhabitants, those housing projects became vast dens of impoverishment and crime.


As I finish the diary entry, the full wail of sirens pass our FEMA trailer park where the elderly and infirm are stationed, and comes to rest in our vicinity.  One goes to sleep at night, not knowing who amongst us will be gone the next morning given our significant turnover, and the illnesses we have witnessed to date.




Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 5 – Public decisions to congregate in the midst of the worldwide COVID-19 Pandemic, as I’m quarantined  in the City of Los Angeles during the 2020 Coronavirus plague.


[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


Dear family and friends – 05-05-2020


Most of the programming shown on our large television screen here at Green Meadows shelter is comprised of action movies, comedies, and TV serials.  Every once in a while the news is shown.  Here we are, sitting around wearing our face masks while being six feet apart, while on the screen we see many people protesting without masks, or walking or playing in close proximity to each other.


We don’t have to take the TV’s word for it.  If we just look outside at the public in the park here, we see similar laxness.  Even some of our own residents forgo the rigor of social distancing when given the rare opportunity to do so outdoors.


As I entered the gym today to begin assignments, I noticed that the place was empty.  It was actually silent.  I was informed that smoke breaks were now like showers – time limited to 15 minutes.  Everyone was gone.


Awhile later, staff came in upset because people had abused the privilege of the smoke break and they threatened to take the breaks away.  That really got folks riled up.  Eventually people started yelling and carrying on for a while, whether due to nicotine withdrawal or not I do not know.


My friend Henry noted that the quarantine restrictions on top of the curfew is driving people “into more and more desperation.”  We had people feigning dancing  in strip clubs, lots of demonstrative yelling, and solicitation for talent show participants.


Henry said that the increased anxiousness and bickering amongst folks here was driving him crazy.  In addition, he has been waiting a long time to get a root canal performed and his glasses fixed.  Walmart is now open for eyewear prescriptions, and the shelter will not let him leave to get his glasses repaired because we are on quarantine.  His plans are to say thank you very much tomorrow and return to San Diego to go back to his mom’s place.


Quite a few people are upset because many of the rules here change almost daily.  They feel that the system is being unreasonable, disrespectful, and over controlling for no reason.  They do not realize that 1) many decisions for the shelter are not made locally, but at City Hall, and 2) society has to be flexible as it deals with the ever changing conditions created by the proliferation of the virus.


The reality of death or severe illness by the virus has not made an impression on many of these folks.  The news displays people protesting against the government restricting individual movement and freedom on the TV while simultaneously brandishing automatic assault weapons.  These protestors and other members of the public are expressing disbelief that a pandemic is in full swing.  There is a perception held by some that there is a great conspiracy is pulling the wool over our eyes in order for the government to exercise control over the population.


Whether they realize it or not, these people who insist they do not have to practice social distancing value their own individual tendencies and license over the wellbeing of those around them given our circumstances.  When they put their own health in jeopardy, they also jeopardize others.  This is the great lesson we are being taught by the pandemic, that will be emphasized again as global warming takes the lives of hundreds of millions in the near future – we are all connected.


However, it one believes the statistics from numerous news sources to be found on the worldwide web (to date around 3 million affected and a quarter of a million dead all over the world to date), it seems foolish to question thousands of public health officials who are all simultaneously recommending the same thing: stay at least six feet apart; wear face masks covering the mouth and nose; wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds throughout the day; disinfect the surfaces around you, especially those touched by others; cough into tissues and throw the tissues into the garbage; consider wearing disposable gloves, eye protection and other personal protective equipment as well.  Let’s do this and starve the virus to death.


Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 6 – Quarantine takes its toll on COVID-19 shelter in the City of Los Angeles during the 2020 Coronavirus plague, & Newly Posted Rules.


[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


Dear family and friends – 05-07-2020


One of my newfound friends – Henry – has left the shelter today.  His grandmother has died.  He needed to get his glasses fixed and get a root canal done, and he was prevented from meeting those needs by our shelter’s current quarantine.  He is planning on returning to San Diego to live with his mother, who has told him she will purchase his train ticket for the trip home.


Many people have left us and are no longer at the shelter.  It appears we are down to about half capacity at this point.  A number of people like Henry have felt it necessary to break quarantine for one reason or another. For others, it was the disobeying of rules that forced the administration to ask them to leave.


There are a few who brought back alcohol or other drugs to the shelter.  People have smoked marijuana and drank beers here.  Then there are rumors others have smoked sherm (Carfentanil/elephant tranquilizer) and crack, either on or off shelter premises.


There may also be rules preventing us from admitting new residents during our quarantine, so that the shelter could not refill itself to its full capacity for the time being.  But for a lot of us, the quarantine itself is a determining factor as to whether we stay at Green Meadows or go.  Having a curfew to attend to is one thing.  But then being locked up in a huge gym with 60 folks, a few of them bouncing off the walls, can make the atmosphere chaotic and uncomfortable.  I assume that if one is getting over the effects of any addiction when they are not prepared to do that, then the strict regime here may not be tolerable.


One reprieve – today the shelter has posted times for 15 minute smoke breaks held on the hour.  There is no place to go for this purpose except into the park that surrounds us, and it is officially against park rules to smoke in the park, but I guess an exception is being made.  I am surprised at how many young people here smoke tobacco.  Don’t they know it causes cancer?


The mandatory absence between noon and 2 pm for the entire cleaning of the facility (5 days a week) remains in place.  Shelter residents often supplement this task with their own housekeeping throughout every day.


MSEP – Yesterday, trailer residents were asked to sign a Mass Shelter Expansion Program (MSEP) “contract” – a Code of Conduct outlining the requirements for their stay at the FEMA trailer park at Green Meadows Recreation Center.  In bold letters it states, “Failure to abide by this Code of Conduct subjects you to termination from the MSEP.” In the contracts we are identified as “participants.” This program is defined as “Tier 1 – Non-congregate.”  Its operation is supported by city staff, along with help from other groups and organizations, including the nonprofit group of volunteers First to Serve.


Today, large MSEP banners that read like contracts were hung outside the main entrances to the shelter and trailer park.  The first notification on them is that the shelters and trailer park are staffed 24 hours a day, and if there any concerns, the security staff should be notified, or a participant is free to call 911.  Many rules and stipulations are listed on these large displays.  They outline behaviors that must be adhered to by participants in order for them to take advantage of the supports at Green Meadows.


Information about the Mass Shelter Expansion Program is hard to find on the internet.  Staff at the park talked about the program being part of a city initiative initiated in District 5 to shelter those without houses by utilizing large shipping storage containers for townhouses as an effective alternative to H proposition apartments, where units are costing up to half a million dollars each to construct.  The large banners hung outside the shelter and trailer park are more informative than information I could find online.


The strict regimentation of the shelter and trailer park are reminiscent of a boarding school.  Within this aura of constant constraint, there is ever-present unseen surveillance coupled with extraordinary care and nurturing. I feel that both these facets of shelter operations are probably necessary to help this place cope with the wide range of needs and behaviors displayed by those of us here.


The requirements for staying in the shelter on the large MSEP banners are displayed as long lists of mandates for shelter participants and trailer residents to follow.  Prominent amongst them are the three R’s:


REMOVE – staff can relocate a participant at any time;

REVOKE – staff can revoke use by a participant at any time;

REMOVE – staff can remove a participant at any time.

The banner reminds us that these facilities are not public, and that access to them is restricted to MSEP participants.  We must follow the curfew and must remain in the facility every evening from 8 pm to 8 am.  If a person is gone over a 24 hour period, it can be considered they have vacated the premises and their place can be reassigned.


There is a limit of one (1) sixty (60) gallon bag of possessions (though people have brought in more belongings than that amount at times).


We are to be tested for our temperatures three times a day by nurses, and we must follow all hygiene and health protocols, including showers 5 days a week, and take advantage of laundry services.


Violence of any kind, including the possession of weapons, the threat of the use of imitation weapons, or damage to the facility or to the property of others is not tolerated.


Trailer park participants extras – The trailers seem luxurious in comparison to the basketball gym.  However, while they are more comfortable and offer more personalized amenities, that appearance is a deceptive.  Shelter participants moving into a trailer are reminded that  these staff are to have “access and use of all an every part of the MSE facility at any time without prior notice or consent.” I am visited over half a dozen times every day.  The visits remind me of room service.  The staff are very respectful and supportive of us, and I feel pampered.


Additional requirements for trailer park participants include no business conducted in trailers; no toxic/flammable liquids/substances or waste dumping; no storage of items in or around trailers; and a not cooking rule that is interpreted as no use RV stove burners or ovens.  I have a microwave in my trailer, and I assume all of the eight trailers here are so equipped.  Ditto for radio (no tv), air conditioner, shower and toilet, indoor vacuum, couch, bed/s, benches, recessed lighting range food & fan, etc.  Have I have landed in COVID-19 heaven?


There is social etiquette that must be followed.  We at make no disturbance (noise) that affects other participants, along with having no guests, including other participants not assigned to any trailer in question.


Trailer participants must be good stewards of the resources they are assigned.

Trailers must be kept clean, neat, and safe; we must notify Recreation & Park staff of damage to trailers; and participants are not allowed to make any additions or improvements to the trailers.


As someone living here, I feel that these rules are not only reasonable, but make a lot of sense in terms of managing society’s resources as they are being used for temporary purposes by a population that is transient.  For one, I am happy to comply with them, and proud to be a good steward of these great resources entrusted to me.


Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 7 –


Quarantine takes its toll on COVID-19 shelter participation in the City of Los Angeles during the 2020 Coronavirus plague


[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


Dear family and friends – 05-09-2020


At night I cannot sleep.  I have begun to watch DVD’s on my lap top very, very early in the morning as an inducement to a second attempt at sleep.  I am sure it is healthier than raiding the fridge.


When I finally woke up for real, I had a surprise.  I have a new neighbor.  Directly adjacent to Trailer 6 is the temporary fence put up by city employees that separates the trailers from the park it has stolen a parking lot from.  Parallel to the fence are two trees, and between them someone had set up and was sleeping in a bright purple hammock.  It was shocking to see it quickly appearing so close to my trailer’s window.  Only a plastic gallon jug of water on the ground, and one white shirt draped upon the rope that attached the hammock to the tree at one of its ends gave evidence of human presence.  Later on a pair of arms and a hand holding a smoking cigarette provided signs of life.


It turns out my new neighbor is Tom, a former shelter resident I has seen every day for weeks when I was staying inside the shelter.  He has made a steady presence here throughout the day.  Henry has returned to spend the day here, and they both are hanging out with Rick, Strawberry Top, Mike, Cartana, and other shelter residents outside the shelter proper during the daily clean up of the facilities.


There are many birds in the park throughout the entire day: sparrows, pigeons, crows, mocking birds, blue jays, and occasionally sea gulls.  A hawk has made this park his home.  I often see the mocking birds chasing the hawk and the crows all over the place, with the sparrows and pigeons remaining neutral during these encounters.


For the past several days I have been jettisoning the carbs from my meals that I am reluctant to consume through the chain link fence onto the grass, as I hate to waste the food by putting it in the trash.  There are many birds that are very hungry and more than happy to relieve me of my guilt.  They quickly devour everything that I place on the lawn.


The pigeons are the most fearless when I throw breadcrumbs on the ground.  They descend from the top of my trailer roof like a landing army, and come close to touching my sandaled feet as they scurry around and peck for food.  The sparrows arrive directly behind them, making off with whatever is left behind.



Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 8 – More departures from and big changes at Green Meadows. The quarantine exacts a heavy toll on residents in the shelter.


[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


Dear family and friends – 05-10-2020


Like clockwork, the immense Vacu 2100 plus dump truck and city sanitation pickup  and their drivers come twice a day to the trailer park, beginning early in the morning.  They put in the good water and take away the bad water.  Nurses are right on schedule to take our temperatures, three times a day without fail.  Trailer participants can pick up breakfast at the main gate, or it is delivered with a smile to our very doors.  Cleaning staff and inspectors knock with frequency, inquiring about my wellbeing.  Tom wakes up in his hammock, and he is shared a breakfast from concerned trailer park attendees.


More folks are being asked to leave the shelter during our last days of quarantine.  I stopped by this am as a good friend of mine still living in the shelter was handcuffed, sitting outside the main door of the shelter, surrounded a half a dozen police officers.  I was told he got upset this morning when the bright lights of the gym were turned on too early and could not be turned off for some reason, and things escalated from there.  It is hard on everyone being quarantined for 14 days.


During our numerous conversations inside the shelter when I was staying there, he confided in me that he has had many confrontations with law enforcement in the past.  There were problems he had with former relationships, parole, and so forth.  Like many people here, he has a great sense of humor.  He always seemed like the nicest person to me.  It made me sad to see him agitated and constrained.


The pandemic and the quarantine give those of us together here a common bond.  It is the bond of sharing a common condition within a confined space, and being forced to live together by circumstance for the sake of being kept safe from the pandemic.  The rigors of quarantine make our lives together a difficult experience.  Our shared confinement, and the sense of urgency of this reality, bring unlikely associations and familiarities into our experience.


I am discovering the deep lesson that we are all human beings – very much like each other regardless of the diversity of our backgrounds.  Under these circumstances, that similarity transcends the many differences that otherwise separate us during so-called “normal” times.


Later this afternoon, the world inside the shelter is turned upside down.  With the  vast number of residents now gone within the past eleven days, the entire gym has been emptied of virtually every cot.  These cots are set to be removed from the premises courtyard where they are temporarily stored.  I was informed the entire gym will be deep cleaned and refurbished at the end of quarantine.


Another new development – staff informed me the police now require that everyone keep a distance of six feet from the office door.  This space must be kept clear at all times.  Long strips of bright, florescent tape now demarcate this delineation on the floor.  I can only guess the earlier incident was a confrontation that brought the police inside the Green Meadows courtyard this morning.  It may have been another altercation has resulted in this additional rule to be adhered to, as this not the first time staff have been threatened.


Upon my request to the administration this afternoon, I was told by a nurse at the shelter that I am COVID-19 negative.  That is a relief.  She added that even though I am negative, I must remain at the shelter until the quarantine has lapsed.  I attribute my good health to the rigor of shelter rules and my adherence to them.


I hope to stay at the shelter at least until its internet service is restored, my current online studies at Cal State LA are completed, and the shelter-in-place orders at the state, county and city levels are lifted.


Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 9 –  More departures from Green Meadows, as the quarantine exacts a heavy toll on residents in the shelter.


[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


Dear family and friends – 05-12-2020


My second purpose for staying at the shelter (aside for seeking safety from the virus and basic living necessities that is not offered through car living when accessible infrastructure evaporates) is to access a reliable source for the internet in order to complete my studies.  What was once offered by two routers in the Green Meadows gym has not been available over the past week.  As a result, my studies have been placed on hold.  I am waiting for reliable and workable internet service to be re-established at the shelter.


My friend Henry left Los Angeles yesterday.  He was waiting to be reimbursed for a loan, and that has not happened.  After juggling promised support with a time line for returning to San Diego, he left with most of his possessions by train.


When I return to the gym every day to check to see if the wifi has been restored and to study from my printed notes, I see the diminishing population in the shelter.  We are down to less than 20 cots (9 men’s and 8 women’s) from the previous 60.  I anticipate the complete removal of all furnishings, including the temporary tarp floor, when the deep cleaning crews arrive to disinfect the gym.


Most of my friends who I become acquainted with the past three weeks have vanished from this place, along with scores of other faces who I recognized as familiar, but whose names I never learned.


“Auntie Alea” has come through again.  Yesterday, as I was sitting at my regular wifi spot in the gym shelter, two big enhancements to my stay at Green Meadows materialized.  My last load of free laundry was delivered to me after a short delay, and an IT tech from the city finally arrived and rebooted the “yellow” router, which is now working perfectly.  I plan on reestablishing my studies at Cal State LA as soon as possible.


Yesterday I let my professors know I could begin my studies again now that I had the internet.  Today, my professors asked me to prepare the remaining homework assignments within a week.  This attempt may be interrupted as the shelter is slated for removal of all inhabitants soon in order for a “deep cleaning” to take place.  Our quarantine was established because one resident was positive for CIVID-19.  If the shelter is closed, I lose access to the internet.



Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 10 – Last day before the deep cleaning of Green Meadows.




[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


Dear family and friends – 05-13-2020


Today I found out that the deep cleaning of the Green Meadows gym will take place tomorrow morning and will probably last the entire day.  I will not be allowed into the gym then to do school work.


As I sit to work on assignments, Aaron rolls around the tarped gym floor on his electric scooter inside the gym, telling people it is time for another smoke break.  There are only a handful of people here, less that twenty.


Shannon is taping white balloons all over the entrance to the gym – symbolic of our celebrating the end of the quarantine I suppose.  We must all exit the shelter tomorrow for the entire day, and we must return at or before 7:30 pm in order to make curfew for that night.  The sense of celebration is dissipated by the gym devoid of cots save for a very few.


While we are to be deep cleaned tomorrow, a sign has been posted outside the shelter:


RAP (Recreation and Parks) shelter sites are no longer accepting new clients.  Please refer people who are trying to get a bed at your site to LAUSA (Los Angeles Homeless Shelter Authority) 231-536-0720.


So when we are deep cleaned, we will still be about 20 people in the shelter, even though we have the completed our quarantine which required that no new shelter residents be admitted as a condition of that process.  And while there has been no official announcement yet, it is rumored that Green Meadows is to be eventually shut down, and its participant housed in new facilities during the pandemic.


It was a big surprise before the end of the day that a sound system with blaring music along with cake and ice cream were provided to participants in recognition of Ken’s and Bong’s birthdays, and celebration of the fact that we had all “graduated” from the quarantine’s ordeal and testing of us.  Ms. Douglas, in her ever supportive manner, recognized the fact that many of us were moving on towards new jobs and housing and congratulated us for our successes.  Staff members and participants rose to give short accolades reflecting our thanks and admiration for each other.  It was an uplifting moment at the end of quarantine trials and tribulations.



Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 11 – The Deep Cleaning of Green Meadows has begun and has ended.


[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


Dear family and friends – 05-14-2020


The residents/clients/participants of Green Meadows shelter were expelled and deep cleaning was initiated before my arrival to wash my dishes in the bathroom there.  Seventeen cots were spaced out on an adjacent parking lot like giant chess pieces on a giant chess board, the significant belongings of each cot occupant stored in huge clear plastic bags that littered the entire area.  Some of us stood nearby, while others were running or walking throughout the part that surrounds us, thankful for the opportunity to be able to do so after two weeks of enclosure and restriction.


The table that I use to study has been unceremoniously placed outside the rear side door of the gym, along with other tables and an extra heavy-duty cot with a 5/8th inch plywood sheet where bed springs would usually be seen.  Single-piece paper towels were left on the study table that doubles as a resident microwave oasis by one of our custodians yesterday.  Now left unattended outdoors, the paper towels were distributed throughout the area by the cool early morning breeze, and it was a chore to collect them all for later personal use.


Upon departure to my trailer I was able to witness what a real basketball gym looks like as the staff worked hard removing the entire tarped floor to reveal the real hardwood floor underneath.


I have to leave today as internet use is not available to me for this day.  After attending to my post office box, I will return to Green Meadows before curfew begins, and commence my Advanced Statistics studies tomorrow again.


Upon my return, the shelter floor was once more completely covered with a brand new, bright blue tarp, and everyone was relocated to their former spot on the shelter map.  Bong had recently retuned from a dollar mart with fresh strawberries and cherries for everyone, and I was informed the internet is up and running for our use at this time.  Even a short blackout on the entire shelter premises did not disrupt wifi router operation.







Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 12 – My life upended with a mandatory move to the Cheviot Hills Recreation Center pandemic trailer park/shelter.


[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


Dear family and friends – 05-17-2020


Just as I woke this morning, Coordinator Shannon and a few office staff appeared at my trailer door.  I was unceremoniously yet politely informed that all residents were to leave Green Meadows today or tomorrow.  Just one hour later, two uniformed and weaponized police officers arrived to escort me off the premises.  When I told them I had my own car and wished to drive myself, that bought me a bit more time to get ready to leave.  That was good, because it took me awhile to pack.


All of us living at Green Meadows had developed friendships that are now, in an instant, uprooted.  I will miss my new friends – both residents and staff.  We were informed all along that we might be asked to leave at a moments notice.  Well – it has happened.  I distinctly felt that a number of us were depressed by the fact we were being forced to depart from each other’s company


I am to be relocated to another trailer park.  I have been moved from the Green Meadows Shelter in South Central to the Cheviot Hills Recreation Center near Avenue of the Stars.


Cheviot Hills reminds me of 50’s suburbia – trailer after trailer that are virtually the same in one of two models – in four very long, very straight rows – stretching further than the eyes can see due to the grade of the gently sloping, fully paved parking lot hill they are on.


There are huge roadways in between the first and second row, and the third and fourth row.  These roadways have no cars upon them, save for a couple of staff vehicles.  The roads are for the massive dump & vacuum trucks that service the trailers two times a day.


When those trucks are not there, these roadways are desolate.  There is seldom a sign of human life here, with most people staying inside their trailers I suppose.  The emptiness of most of the the trailer park proper gives the appearance that COVID-19 has come and gone, leaving a living planet devoid of signs of human life.


There is a big difference between Cheviot Hills and Green Meadows. Cheviot Hills is a lot larger and more impersonal.  I and my belongings are searched and wanded each and every time I enter this huge enclosed facility that is about a mile long with only one entrance at its south end, and the trailer spot I am assigned to is its north end!  Well, I need the exercise.


They are very strict about what is permitted to enter this trailer park.  A lot of everyday items that were allowed in Green Meadows are contraband here.  No open food, a strict weapons ban, no razors for shaving (only electric razors I was told), all fabrics of any kind like clothes, towels, etc. must be “hot boxed” for one hour before being allowed into your trailer, etc.


There is a rapid turnover of staff and volunteers that run this facility.  I am told that even though this place is composed of FEMA trailers, and that it is taking place on City of Los Angeles property and therefore overseen by Parks and Recreation staff and Department of Public Health, the people in charge of its day-to-day operations are volunteers with Volunteers of America, and other organizations.  As a collective staff, these folks are quite arbitrary in how the rules – that change from one day to the next – are applied.  Whether this is due to lack of co-ordination, or deficient communications, I do not know.  I do not wish to complain as I am a beneficiary of the services and resources here and I am thankful for them.  It is just that it is very frustrating to navigate the differences.


This very large trailer park of 100 trailers (Green Meadows had about 10 trailers) is by a huge recreational park.  Most but not all of the residents in the trailer park appear to be elderly folks.


The mile long trailer park is situated along-side Motor Avenue, which is like a highway within the city.  During the day, it bustles with the business of prosperity.  Tons of cars stream by, and many people walk along Motor Avenue’s sidewalks.  At night, with the exception of the odd hot rod, there is a deep silence here.


Insightful news reporting reveals that social distancing is in fact a luxury that billions in the world do not have access to.   For many impoverished people, the choice to be made is simple – whether to die by COVID-19, or to not work and die by starvation.


The same is true with the absence of noise.  The rich can afford the luxury of silence.   For the most part, the silence is deafening in this well-to-do region of LA.  The silence here is in sharp contrast to South Central’s ever-present, 24 hours a day sounds of residential poverty: incessant ice cream trucks, gun shots, car alarms, fireworks, screaming people in the parks, helicopters, emergency vehicle sirens, and screeching tires and tom cats.  The only omnipresent sounds I miss from Green Meadows are the songs of mocking birds.


There are a lot of younger people in the Cheviot Hills Recreation Center’s park areas and walking along the sidewalks that encompass the trailer park that are not wearing masks, and not practicing social distancing.  Inside the trailer park we are required to wear masks all of the time 24/7, or one faces expulsion.


Greg’s Coronavirus Diary – Episode 13 – Back-to-Back Quarantines


[My name is Greg Foisie.  I am a sociology student at California State University Los Angeles.  Having lived in my car in the City of Los Angeles for a number of years to facilitate going to school, I was denied basic living amenities and effective access to the internet when my university campus was completely shutdown by the pandemic.  This is an update of my account of living in the city’s pandemic shelters – written late at night when I cannot sleep.]


Dear family and friends – 05-18-2020


My former associates at the Green Meadows shelter were two days fresh-off a full 14 day quarantine before we were given one hour’s notice and all told we had to move.  This was done despite a full day’s deep cleaning and new tarp covering refurbishing every square inch of the gym.  Subsequently both trailer and gym residents of the Green Meadows shelter were scattered across several other pandemic sites around the city.


Now, having just arrived and being resettled in the huge Cheviot Hills Recreation Center trailer for two days, in a luxurious trailer one and a half times the size of my previous Green Meadows trailer, I am told our residents in this trailer park have to enter (my myself another) 14 day quarantine.  We are not told why, and one must assume that amongst the 150 odd people that are here, someone was confirmed as having COVID-19.


There is not an official announcement of this new order, as there was in Green Meadows, where a loud, universal shout in the gym above the blaring TV, or a frequent visitor to your trailer, let everyone know what was going on at the same time.  At the huge Cheviot Hills trailer park, there is little sense of community that I can sense.


It seems to be that everyone pretty much keeps to themselves, and access to official announcements is difficult to come by.  You learn of what’s going on by chance here.  If you just happen to be in the area where staff and volunteers are, they may let you know of a major change as a matter of casual conversation.  More often then not, you have to ask in order to be informed of new rules and changes: how do you get your laundry taken for a wash; will you mail a letter for me?; what happened to the recycling drop off bag; where is the place to pick up your meals in the trailer park (as yesterday’s place is not longer serving this purpose for you), etc.


People here are nice but distant.  My introduction to Cheviot Hills was a young woman named Ellie reading to me – word for word – the exact instructions on the huge banner outside Green Meadows facilities, listing all of the Mass Shelter Expansion Program (MSEP) Code of Conduct contractual obligations.  It must have taken her fifteen minutes to do this.  I am sure she is required to read this long list to every one who enters here as a “participant.”


I am sure that she was just doing what she was told to do.  She knew I had come to Cheviot Hills from Green Meadows, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her what was obvious – that I knew all of the rules.  Then I had to sign a bunch of forms attesting t the same, and I receive a copy of the Code of Conduct.


The trailer I have to use is very spacious and nice.  The same capacity limitations and instructions apply: the doors do not lock; the stove and oven are not hooked up; do not run the microwave and air at the same time; keep your trailer and its environs clean at all times; etc.


Because of it size and its increased restrictions, Cheviot Hills feels much more like a prison.  Like Green Meadows, everyone attending to us is uniformed.  The people all around us are dressed in either the all white puffy Michelin Man costumes or the all black decorum of security attendants.  Also, each space had both shelter and trailer park, and the trailer park is surrounded with a chain link fence that had only one open entrance and exit.  But this is where the similarities end.


My car is parked about ten yards away from the trailer I occupy, opposite the chain link fence that separates the trailers from the Motor Avenue sidewalk.  I have to walk over a mile one way to get to my car for things that I need inside it, and I am not allowed to even do this because of the ever-changing quarantine lock-down order.


There is just one area in the Cheviot Hills trailer park that is set up with a dozen metal chairs in one of the few functionally shaded areas along the main thoroughfare between the extremely long rows of trailers.  Each chair is 6 feet apart from the other in checkerboard fashion.  I have never seen anyone use this place since my arrival.  It rained a bit this morning, and each chair seat now doubles as a bird bath.  This bleak scenario of the empty, rain-filled uncomfortable chairs looks like a pretentious and misplaced art gallery installation in the middle of nowhere.  It is not appealing or inviting to me.


Somehow at Green Meadows, the starkness of the environment was off set by the genuine warmth of the administration and staff there.  They were accommodating without divorcing themselves from their authority and responsibilities.  They offered endless amenities that helped make the difference between imprisoning conditions and a sense of being welcome and supportive: lots of smiles that could be felt beneath masks; constant water, coffee, and ever-present snacks 24/7; generous help with special needs; the occasional party hosted by staff or a resident.  These significant gestures made an enormous difference in appeal.  I perceive it was also helpful that Green Meadows was a much smaller facility.  One didn’t have to walk a mile to get to one’s car or pick up your meal three times a day.

There is no uniform way that trailer park residents are informed of changes here.  Upon arrival, I was given two sheets of paper announcing different times for the serving of breakfast.  One is informed of major changes as if by happenstance, such as asking a question to the ever-changing staff and volunteers that man the canopies for security, food dispensing, and personal belonging inspection stations, placed at the sole entrance and exit of this facility, at the far south end of this huge trailer park.


There are different canopies also set up in the middle of the trailer park, but it is not known why they are there.  Sometimes staff are sitting under these middle canopies.  Sometimes there is no one underneath them.  There is no signage designating their purpose.


My experience is that at Green Meadows, resident interactions with staff were more personable.  Here I feel it is more like I am being tolerated much the time.  The selfless people at Cheviot Hills are not rude. As far as I am concerned they are risking their lives being here for us.  However, they are made just a bit more distant by the significant size of this place.


In the Green Meadows Shelter proper – in the gym – we were all crammed together – 60 residents and about 15 staff on two shifts in any given – day six feet apart.  You got to see each other a lot, and you got to know each other.  The gym shelter at Green Meadows was set up first, and then the small trailer portion was filled up with the older residents from the gym, so we were all accustomed to each other.


During the day, Green Meadow trailer park residents were allowed to sit at a picnic table, in the shade of several trees, immediately outside of and adjacent to the chain link fence entrance to the trailer park.  There, the older trailer park residents gathered to talk and socialize, keeping social distance and wearing masks, even  during the entire quarantine.  This facility was regularly used for this purpose.


I was given the special privilege as a trailer resident of going into the gym.  I could use the internet there in order to go online to attend my professor’s lectures and study, and stay in touch with my old roommates at the same time.  Here at the Cheviot Hills Pandemic Trailer Park, using the shelter proper in order to study was never even considered, much less offered.


These facilities are set up to protect those without homes who are in danger of contracting the illness.  However, we are treated like we have the illness.  One feels as if we are ostracized from society at large.  Does this have to do with the fact that we are predominantly homeless?


There is forced anonymity here.  There are no signs giving this huge place an identity.  One continuous, circumferential fence separates us from the public who are always around us.  It is as if we are on display, yet invisible.  If members of the public inquire about the trailer park, as they do from time to time, they are curtly informed by staff to contact the city with their questions, as if there is a Code of Silence about this place.


I am thankful for being able to be here.  However, this place is not celebrated.  Perhaps our seclusion in the midst of the affluent Beverly Hills influence is a desperate attempt to avoid confrontation from NIMBYism.  We are – after all – the unhoused, and Cheviot Hills is currently our temporary home.



















MARCH 18, 2020


Mayor Eric Garcetti – City of Los Angeles

200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012



Mayor partners with City Council to put $20 million in reserve funds into relief efforts — including emergency shelter and supplies — and activates Disaster Service Worker program for City employees.


LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti announced this evening that L.A. will add thousands of emergency shelter beds to help get homeless Angelenos indoors more quickly as part of comprehensive efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.


“Too many Angelenos lack a basic necessity that will help most of us get through this crisis: a home,” said Mayor Garcetti. “We are taking immediate, urgent action to slow the spread of COVID-19 by helping people who are experiencing homelessness come indoors.”


The Mayor highlighted a partnership with the City Council to use $20 million in budget reserve funds on emergency relief efforts — including a plan to add 1,600 emergency shelter beds in thirteen City recreation centers by the end of this week, and scale up to dozens more locations in the coming days with more than 6,000 beds provided by the American Red Cross. To fill the first shelter beds coming online, the City will work with the County, LAHSA, and other partners to identify individuals in the homeless population who face the greatest risk from the novel coronavirus.


As part of the plan, the Mayor has activated the Disaster Service Worker program, which will place some City employees in temporary roles to assist in these unprecedented efforts. “We have the finest workforce in the world –– and in a moment of profound need, I am grateful to everyone who steps up to help and shows up to lead,” said Mayor Garcetti.


Mayor Garcetti has taken several emergency measures to help protect Angelenos and slow the spread of COVID-19 — including restrictions placed on bars, nightclubs, restaurants, movie theaters, entertainment venues, bowling alleys and arcades, gyms and fitness centers; and putting limits on public gatherings in City facilities. The Mayor has also taken emergency measures to put a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions of tenants affected by COVID-19.

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