Homelessness is particularly serious during a pandemic

Homelessness is a particularly serious issue during the COVID-19 global pandemic say several US Catholic Charities.

Furthermore, the number of people without homes is predicted to increase if there is a pandemic-related economic downturn.

In Southern California, Catholic Charities of Los Angeles  says the weight of addressing homelessness in the region is already at a breaking point.

“While our agency has helped house many homeless families and provided temporary shelter for them, there are just too many people in California for this to seem like it’s making a dent,” a spokesperson says.

“The concern for the State during this time is keeping homeless people stationed in one area so that they are not spreading any illnesses or catching something themselves.

“This is difficult because the numbers are large and the question arises:

“Where will we house these homeless people during this time?”

The mayor of Los Angeles has no answer yet: “My hope is, during these times, we can figure out a plan for the homeless community so that they too feel that they are a part of our society, because they are.”

Poor access to health care and underlying health conditions make homeless people especially vulnerable, a spokeperson from Catholic Charities in Louisiana says.

“A lot are tri-morbid in terms of having health conditions, a substance abuse disorder and a mental health illnesses — three things that make the risk of infection more dangerous.

In Northern California, lockdown measures similar to those in Italy, Spain and China are in place – the first of its kind in the U.S.

Effective until 7 April, 6.7 million residents must stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out.

But Catholic Charities Santa Rosa, is concerned for its clients.

It is the largest homeless care provider between the Golden Gate bridge and the Oregon border, with 500 homeless people under its care on any given night at a dozen different sites.

“Homelessness was a crisis even before this crisis, so self-quarantining at home isn’t applicable — we have to think creatively on how to help (the homeless),” a spokesperson says.

Preventative measures, cleanliness and providing information is Catholic Charities main focus – “so that the people we are serving can take care of themselves.

“We are doing a lot of extra cleaning at our shelters’ sites every day and taking a lot of guidance from the state and local government …

“But we can’t quarantine people and will have to work outside if that becomes the situation.”

The spokesperson comments that the problem for social workers right now is assimilating the flow of information and following directives about COVID-19.

This is important as compliance ensures  homeless shelters can stay open to provide care and employees have workplaces to go to.

In the longer term, unintended consequences of the pandemic and economic crisis could include a new wave of homeless.





Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: ,