Woman in LA house for 25 residents: Social distancing is tougher than it sounds

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A couple dozen people share a five-bedroom home in Highland Park and pay just under $600 in monthly rent. It helped them cope with L.A.’s high cost of living. But it’s a tough living environment when public health officials are encouraging social distancing to prevent the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

There are 25 beds that typically stay full. But now only 15 people live in the house. Some left for fear of their health during the pandemic. Many of them work in the service industry, and have had their hours cut, or have been laid off completely. They can’t make rent, and have been forced to move in with friends or family.

One of the women still living there is Susan Morgan. She’s managed to keep her job at Donut Friend, so she plans to stay for now.

“No one wants to move in. Can you imagine moving to LA right now and wanting to move into a house with this many people?” she says.

Another resident left after he started showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus last week.

“Thursday night, we had an emergency meeting where the house manager told us [our roommate] tested positive for coronavirus,” says Morgan.

It turned out to be a false alarm. His test result ended up being negative. But since then, Morgan says the roommates have avoided spending time together, and many have purchased their own supplies of toilet paper in case the communal stash runs out.