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Imperial County’s homeless population totals just over 1,400 based on a count last year, and fewer than 200 of those in the tally had any kind of shelter. With the new threat of COVID-19, nonprofit leaders and others in the county worry the virus could easily spread through the homeless community

That’s why Maribel Padilla, co-founder of the Brown Bag Coalition, pushed county officials to provide portable hand-washing stations at Calexico’s Border Friendship Park, where her group serves nightly meals to the homeless. She and other volunteers say maintaining basic hygiene is still a struggle for the many homeless who have nowhere to shelter.

These photos taken in Calexico on Tuesday capture how the area’s homeless are being helped.

Peter Sanchez, a Navy veteran from Calexico, cleans his hands with wipes handed out by the Brown Bag Coalition at Calexico’s Border Friendship Park, April 21, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Volunteers from the Brown Bag Coalition hand out meals at Calexico’s Border Friendship Park, April 21, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Jesse Reyes sits at Calexico’s Border Friendship Park during the Brown Bag Coalition’s nightly dinner, April 21, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
A storage room used by the Brown Bag Coalition in Calexico is shown on April 21, 2020. Due to the building’s condition, the room can only be used to store items rather than provide other services. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
The dining area at the emergency homeless shelter in Calexico is shown on April 21, 2020. Catholic Charities operates the shelter. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Empty streets in downtown Calexico are shown during the COVID-19 pandemic, April 21, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
The only emergency homeless shelter in Calexico, which is run by Catholic Charities, is shown on April 21, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Volunteer Idalia Borquez hands out meals at Calexico’s Border Friendship Park, April 21, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
A man pulls out a mask given to him by volunteers in Calexico’s Border Friendship Park, April 21, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
A man walks away from a hand-washing station at Calexico’s Border Friendship Park, April 21, 2020. The portable stations are brought to the park every evening during the Brown Bag Coalition’s dinner handouts. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

Zoë Meyers is a photo and video journalist at inewsource. Zoë loves working as a visual journalist because it gives her the privilege of witnessing moments in people's personal lives and in our community that can enhance our understanding of important stories. When she's not behind the camera,...