Today, we are living through one of the most intrusive medical circumstances in history, which is devastating the nation’s most vulnerable population. COVID-19 exacerbates the health risks faced by the homeless population, with implications that will likely remain long after the pandemic subsides. Right now, organizations helping people experiencing homelessness are unsure how this will change what it means to be “homeless,” but we recognize that change will happen.
Homeless individuals and families make up the most underserved communities throughout our nation. The most difficult problems facing those experiencing homelessness are income, housing, food insecurity, and medical care. While on the surface these issues sound the same as the issues affecting communities prior to the pandemic, but the circumstantial problems around these issues continue to compound with time. The pandemic continues to put pressure on the entirety of every housed and those experiencing homelessness in every state and city across this country.
Here are ways that cities are currently responding to the homeless situation 6 months into the pandemic:
Springfield, Massachusetts: is to use a $3.9M grant to curb to homelessness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Salinas, California: The City Council voted to purchase the Good Nite Inn for $12 million.
Burlington, Vermont: Homeless shelters rush to prepare for winter amid Covid-19 pressures.
Salt Lake City, Utah: The mayor lays out a plan for COVID-19, for if or when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.
Rochester, New York: event to help homeless children with free lunches, haircuts, school backpacks, and bikes.
Berkeley, California: Berkeley mayor is firming up plans to set up its first sanctioned homeless camp.
Minneapolis, Minnesota: Native American homeless encampment grows at Hiawatha and Franklin, community demands housing support.
Santa Barbara, California: The County Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg, is requiring temperature screening, self-evaluation, and reporting of COVID-19 cases at all homeless shelters.
South Lake Tahoe, California: The Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless will be receiving $9,576,000 to help its goal of ending homelessness in South Lake Tahoe.
Mesa, Arizona: The city has created programs for food distribution, small business aid, utility bill grants, homeless services, community COVID-19 testing, and K-12 digital learning help to allocate portions of its $90 million grant.