The Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented time for everyone. This is clear even for the Center for Disease Control, as they continuously change policies and add new recommendations on how to protect yourself from the deadly virus.
The uncertainty that was trickling down from government officials caused many of us to be afraid and stressed—leading everyone to believe that the only known protection from the deadly virus was to lock yourself inside the safety and comfort of your home.
Yet, this fundamental privilege is not the same for everyone living in the United States. Recent statistics from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness discovered 92,091 people experiencing homelessness in New York state alone. With an estimated total of more than 500,000 homeless people living in the US, according to a 2019 research by the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
As the virus continued to spread across America, homeless individuals and families in need were at a higher risk of catching the deadly virus due to their higher interaction with the general public.
States were at a disadvantage as the federal government failed to quickly adopt a nationwide strategy that would have protected their citizens from the beginning. Communities dealing with homelessness and families needing emergency services were quick to not rely on state aid.
Instead, private organizations like The Open Door Mission, located in inner-city Rochester, NY, relied heavily on the county, city, and local government support throughout the pandemic.
“Since early March, we have been working with the local health department essentially to better understand and implement protocols,” said Executive Director Anna Valeria-Iseman. “From a local perspective, the local health department, local health and human services, and city government were all incredibly supportive,” said Iseman.
This support was evident as the County paid for the relocation of half of all four Open Door shelter guests into hotels by the end of March.
“State government was a little different; we were not getting immediate aid from the state, and the office of Temporary Disability Assistance, which oversees the homeless boroughs, did not offer a tremendous amount of support,” said Iseman.