Homelessness During This Pandemic, What is Being Done?
Blog by: Layla Nahavandi
The lives of homeless people are no less important than the well-endowed, but are their
lives being protected as they should be in a time of dangerous virality? When the pandemic
began, the homelessness crisis was at a high point, and it continues to grow as more and more
people lose income and livelihoods due to quarantines. Homeless people aren’t able to practice
social distancing, as living in packed groups, whether it be in shelters or outside, allow the virus
to spread easily. So I wonder, what is being done to help this marginalized group?
Recently, Trump distributed $3 billion in aid in order to create emergency shelters and
increase testing in homeless populations. A lot of areas like hotels and community shelters are
being used to expand homeless shelters too. The only problem is, these are all short-term
solutions, and the well being of the growing homeless population isn’t being ensured.
Some cities, along with expanding homeless shelters, are improving hygiene with the
installment of portable toilets and hand-washing stations around homeless areas. Medical
professionals have also begun visiting these areas to educate the population on preventing
COVID-19. However, traditional homeless shelters, along with the converting of areas such as
libraries into homeless shelters, are under fire as they don’t provide enough distance to prevent
the spread of the virus. So there are increasing initiatives calling for the use of empty hotel rooms to house the homeless to prevent the spread of the CoronaVirus. Yet despite this, the number of hotel rooms expected to be given to the homeless population are minimal as San Francisco (a city that implemented this initiative), by April 21st, has only housed about 8% of their city’s entire homeless population.
The temporary and frankly lazy solutions to the homeless crisis during the pandemic just
isn’t enough. Homeless is rising, and, after the pandemic, what is to be done about the growing
numbers? On another note, why did it take so long for this country to address the homeless
population? And why did it take an entire pandemic to do so? We need to work to de-escalate the
homelessness crisis, and we need to focus on helping the unendowed. But we, as people can only do so much. Our governments, whether federal or local, have to start making change, increasing funding, and focus their help on those who really need it.