(AmericanProsperity.com) – In March, governors issued the first stay-at-home orders, while more came throughout the summer and hit again around the holidays. Most of us hunkered down in our houses. But, what about those Americans who don’t have a roof over their heads?
The Nation’s Response to Homelessness During COVID-19
In March, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) outlined a “whole community” approach to assist the homeless during the coronavirus epidemic. This encouraged different community partners to each play their part, as one group cannot provide everything someone needs to live.
Photojournalist Sarah Reingewirtz showed how some organizations chose to adapt to the new guidelines:
To be safe even the homeless folks are eating Thanksgiving by themselves this year due to COVID-19 surge. Los Angeles Mission canceled their annual Thanksgiving dining event and instead held a food and blanket giveaway that included a boxed Thanksgiving dinner #skidrow pic.twitter.com/6FJS44KgTs
— Sarah Reingewirtz (@sarahimages) November 26, 2020
When gyms and community services, like libraries, were closed, the homeless population lost most of their access to showers, sanitation, and free internet. Additionally, other shops and parks closed, leaving the homeless among us with nothing to do and no easy way to keep clean, creating more potential to spread the virus.
So, the key aspect most states focused on was creating safe, clean spaces to encourage hand washing and educate about the virus.
A Look at Ohio’s Actions to Provide for the Homeless
When the Ohio Department of Health Director, Amy Acton, required Ohioans to stay home, the homeless were exempt. However, she “strongly urged” them to take shelter, and for local governments and groups to provide safe, sanitary shelters.
But, as homeless shelters are often at high capacity in close quarters, changes were necessary. Ohio turned their Over-the-Rhine Community Center into a space to house any homeless person with symptoms of COVID-19.
The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition knew this would not be enough. Reporter Jenna Cisneros shared the executive director’s thoughts:
Josh Spring from Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition said it’s impossible inside shelter settings to practice social distancing. “If and when it makes its way into one of our shelters, we fear it will quickly spread.”
— Jenna Cisneros (@JennaCisnerosTV) March 24, 2020
So, due to the tight quarters, when one person in a homeless shelter contracted COVID-19, they assumed all in the house were now at risk.
Many of California’s Enormous Homeless Population Were Sheltered
California has an estimated 108,000 people experiencing homelessness. Estimates in March predicted nearly 60,000 would contract the coronavirus if no precautions were taken. So, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered $50 million to convert dorms and motels to places homeless persons could isolate if they got the virus.
In San Diego, leaders say the plan worked:
— Stephen Goble (@StephenGoble9) December 1, 2020
This year brought unprecedented challenges for everyone, and the homeless were no exception. But, Americans and their community organizations were able to step up and step into the new roles, helping to provide shelter and sanitation when needed to the most vulnerable among us. While this year was difficult, the care everyone provided to one another this year showed a small snapshot of the American spirit.
~Here’s to Your Prosperity!
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