More than 66,000 people are living without shelter in LA County. Unhoused people often get a front-row seat to violence and crime and trauma, which can lead to even worsening mental health. LA Times reporter Brittny Mejia wrote about one unhoused woman who finds comfort through an unlikely friendship with a duck. Mejia joined "LA Times Today" host Lisa McRee to talk about Autumn McWilliams and her duck, Cardi D.

Mejia spoke about McWilliams and how she ended up living on the streets of LA.  

“This is a woman who’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia, anxiety, depression and has lived with that throughout her life and has had to navigate a lot of things, which is what brought her to her duck,” Mejia said. 

McWilliams has found much comfort in her duck companion, Cardi D. The two go everywhere together.

“Cardi D is just such a fixture in Autumn’s life,” Mejia shared. “She’s had her now for several months and she got him when he was just a little duckling and has raised him up. He sees her kind of like a mom. ... Once I actually spent time with the two of them and saw how Cardi D would follow Autumn around or how Autumn would pick him up and he would just like lean into her, it felt very apparent that there was a deep connection between the two.”

Mejia explained the programs that help unhoused people take care of their pets. 

“There’s a Feeding Pets of the Homeless Organization and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. They can help connect homeless people who have pets with veterinarians and free resources,” she said. “I think one of the misconceptions is that those who are homeless don’t have the bandwidth or the capabilities to take care of pets. But often, they’re finding pets who are strays or left on the street and they’re taking them in, and it gives their life a purpose because they’re focusing their attention and their love on these pets.”

While Mejia was reporting this story, McWilliams tent home was burned down. Mejia talked about McWilliams and Cardi D’s future as they wait for housing. 

“Once the story ran, I got a lot of feedback. I had people wanting to try and figure out a way to help,” Mejia shared. “I think Autumn was really hopeful. I do think based on what I’m hearing, I do think that they’re going to find a home, they’re going to find a place and hopefully with a yard so Cardi D can run around.”

Click the arrow above to watch the full interview. 

Watch "LA Times Today" at 7 and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday on Spectrum News 1 and the Spectrum News app.