The homeless community is being put at risk of COVID-19 due to lack of space and resources, and is not receiving the attention needed to be safe and protected by local and federal governments. Many homeless people in Phoenix, Arizona have tents within inches of each other and do not have enough space to social distance. In attempts to bring security and social distancing, local officials provided a fenced-in lot with security, social distancing, access to water, and access to toilets (Associated Press). However, this temporary solution worked well for a short period of time. Residents quickly noticed that the hygiene products became scarce and the COVID-19 precautions were not being enforced. In addition, staff and organizations that provide services identified the following problems: “lack of timely and ongoing public health communications, difficulties in maintaining adequate infection control measures because of lack of sufficient personal protective equipment, and challenges to achieving effective screening of clients” (Perri). With lack of communication with healthcare professionals and difficulty controlling the spread, homeless people are not protected and are placed at a high risk of COVID-19. In addition, the lack of protective equipment and screening put both the homeless people and staff at risk, making the shelters less safe. Phoenix, Arizona is just one of the many examples of how poorly the homeless community is being cared for during the pandemic.
Due to lack of help and resources, healthcare officials state that homeless people are the most vulnerable population to the pandemic, yet they are seen as invisible victims. Dr. Kushel said, “most homeless people are usually in poorer health and, with widespread closures, have lost access to services providing food, water, and shelter” (Associated Press). Even after this observation, very little was done for the homeless community. Homelessness is a local problem and left to the local community to address. Many reports were filed in attempt to gain support for the homeless community. Congress took initiative and “allocated more than $4 billion for homeless-specific programs as part of the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security Act and made billions more available at the discretion of federal and state officials” (Associated Press). However, this money may not be used to help homeless people. Although the homeless are in most need of the money to provide security from COVID-19 and access to food and water, many fear that the money will be directed toward homeless prevention. The main issue is the government is using the money to prevent homelessness, rather than using the money to help the people who are currently homeless. This causes their health to become more at risk while the pandemic continues to spread. The community is most vulnerable to the coronavirus, however, very little is being done to protect them and ensure their health and safety.
Associated Press. “COVID-19 Is ‘A Crisis Within a Crisis’ for Homeless People.” Modern Healthcare, 24 Aug. 2020, www.modernhealthcare.com/safety-quality/covid-19-crisis-within-crisis-homeless-people.
Perri, Melissa, et al. “COVID-19 and People Experiencing Homelessness: Challenges and Mitigation Strategies.” CMAJ, CMAJ, 29 June 2020, www.cmaj.ca/content/192/26/E716.