COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the homeless in the US

Amidst the COVID-19 madness, many people in America fear for their well-being and future. One of the groups most often overlooked during this pandemic is the homeless. COVID-19 will continue to have a huge affect on the homeless population in America if this issue isn’t properly addressed. The U.S. must do more than just address the problems of the 1% and middle class during this pandemic, and it has to start with the homeless. 

With lockdowns in full effect, many businesses have been advised to shut down for the time being. Workers have been sent home to work remotely or, unfortunately, laid off. These closures have huge effects on the homeless population and put many other individuals at risk for being destitute as well. The indefinite closure of establishments all across the United States poses a challenge for employment offices struggling to find careers for their clients. In addition to this, those who have been laid off have begun to overwhelm labor departments when applying for unemployment benefits. Many people won’t have the facilities to live without a job, thus adding on to the increasing homeless population.

According to transitional housing facilities, many are trying to remain optimistic about the future, but hope can only go so far.

Optimism can’t feed a person, nor provide adequate medical treatment and testing.

Unable to find jobs, more people are going to live in unsanitary conditions, further raising the curve of mass contagion that everyone is trying desperately to flatten. Furthermore, without an income, COVID-19 at-home test kits won’t be accessible for those who lack the funds. 

Many people are going to die if this issue fails to be addressed. From the onset of the COVID-19 cases in the U.S., mass hysteria has caused a massive shortage of supplies at grocery stores. Due to the panic buying, prices for essential supplies have begun to rise, making them more difficult for homeless and at-risk individuals to obtain. With that being said, those who are suffering financially won’t be able to keep up and afford the vital resources needed to survive this pandemic. When people are unable to buy adequate cleaning supplies like soap, or even just healthy necessities like eggs and milk, they will be more vulnerable to the virus. Furthermore, without a roof over their heads to self-isolate, the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus will only worsen.  

The argument has been made to simply place the entirety of the homeless population in shelters or isolated rooms for the time being. However, this isn’t a viable option anymore due to the need for social distancing. Packing people in like sardines, with many of the homeless not having had access to proper sanitation, will cause the virus to spread like wildfire. Moreover, with many people getting laid off, there is a possibility that homeless shelters will be overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the climbing numbers of homeless people. 

The solutions to this issue are simple. Although many establishments are experiencing lockdowns, major grocery stores and delivery services are continuously hiring to keep up with the demand of takeout and restock shelves. Major grocers like Stater Bros. Markets, Ralphs, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods or warehouses like Costco and Sam’s Club, should look into hiring more homeless people. In addition to this, Domino’s has announced that they are looking to hire 10,000 delivery people. Services like Domino’s should be hiring the homeless and providing a company car at each store for those who are unable to use their car for the job. 

More importantly, the government should enforce a rent freeze for those who have been laid off and are filing for unemployment for at least a month in order to provide them with time to get back on their feet. To help with individuals who are unable to find groceries and other supplies, grocery stores should also work to establish a time at least once every other week where homeless and at-risk individuals can come in and get what they need just like what has been done by some stores for the elderly. 

If solutions aren’t made to mitigate the growing problem for homeless people that COVID-19 is causing, then the population of infected people will only grow due to the inability for individuals to afford adequate healthcare treatments and testing. If the government refuses to lend a helping hand to the homeless population during this crisis then the amount of those without a home will also increase due to massive layoffs and the closing of businesses.

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