The coronavirus gave them jobs — and a new lease on life

By Doug Smith, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

LOS ANGELES - After 52 weeks of anger management, Mia Rogers found maintaining her inner peace easier than finding a job.

Her two-year probation had ended in February. With her felony assault conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, the 23-year-old was just getting into the groove when the coronavirus shut everything down.

"I had nowhere to look for work," she said.

After a couple of months living on the edge of homelessness, Rogers found her way to Chrysalis, the downtown nonprofit that prepares the hard-to-employ for work and finds them jobs.

Today she has a job that fits her outgoing personality and has her thinking positively about the future. By an odd twist, she owes it to the coronavirus.

Rogers is one of dozens of Chrysalis employees working at hotels and motels on lease to Los Angeles County to shelter homeless people who are at risk of complications from COVID-19 because of their age or medical conditions.


As the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority built staffs to run the 38 hotels that are now leased through Project Roomkey, it needed to fill a variety of jobs not usually associated with hospitality - security guards, case managers, nurses and dozens of people to tend to the guests' needs.

Their duties include going door-to-door to deliver three pre-packaged meals and two snacks daily, sanitizing, record-keeping, making sure guests wear masks and keep their distance and, importantly, maintaining a positive environment for fragile people who are isolated in their rooms for long hours every day.

Those assignments are mostly filled by Los Angeles city and county workers displaced from their regular jobs. The city hired Chrysalis to supplement its workers in 15 of the hotels.

It was a good fit for Chrysalis' transitional jobs program. While preparing for permanent jobs, about 450 clients work for the agency. They make a little above minimum wage and get job experience and something to put on their resumes.


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