An Unexpected Coronavirus Side Effect for The Homeless

“There is a lot that happens around the world we cannot control. We cannot stop earthquakes, we cannot prevent droughts, and we cannot prevent all conflict, but when we know where the hungry, the homeless and the sick exist, then we can help.” – Democratic U.S. Representative in IL since 1999

No one could have predicted that the first case of Coronavirus in China in November 2019 would eventually spread to become a world-wide pandemic by March of 2020.  Every governmental leader in the U.S. is monitoring the situation closely and making state-wide decisions to implement preventative measures for reducing potential exposure.

These containment strategies have caused a number of unexpected side effects:  National stores are closing to the public or significantly decreasing their services; churches are closing their doors and offering online services only; businesses are asking their employees to work from home; hospitals and healthcare facilities are canceling non-emergency appointments.  To most of us in the U.S., it feels surreal to live in a world where people are concerned to leave their home and interact with other people.

Another unexpected side effect is happening within the homeless population.  Public health officials are keenly aware that if the Coronavirus finds its way into a homeless community, it will spread like wildfire due to unsanitary living conditions, poor nutrition, lack of toilet facilities and no running water to keep hands and personal items clean.  Many states are working closely with organizations that serve the homeless to provide services to keep them safe.

The state of California is taking it one step further.  In an article by Thomas Curwen, Benjamin Oreskes and Anita Chabria writing for the Los Angeles Times, they report: “Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that homeless people would be prioritized as a vulnerable population. Though he offered few details, he said there would be a massive attempt to move people off the streets and into indoor settings, including hotels and motels purchased in recent days and 450 state-owned trailers that will be deployed throughout California.”

Their article goes into much more detail about the difficulties California is facing, and quotes a variety of education and public officials including Bobby Watts (head of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council), Randall Kuhnis (UCLA’s department of community health sciences), Grant Colfax (director of heath for San Francisco), and Heidi Marston(executive director for Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority).  If you’d like to read that article in full, click here.

While it is important to contain the virus and ensure the homeless are protected against it, this new focus also seems to be a “silver lining” to serve them more effectively.  Barbara DiPietro, senior director of policy for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, is hoping that the coronavirus will change how everyone approaches homeless services in the future…as are all homeless services organizations across the U.S.

We, at Sheltering Grace, are doing our best to protect the homeless mothers and babies we serve. We welcome any donations to ensure those in our care stay safe. Please contact us at 678-337-7858 to learn how you can help. Each mother and baby will be truly grateful for your kindness.

Sheltering Grace Ministry, Ltd. is a 501(c)3 Ltd. non-profit ministry. We resolve the initial crisis of homelessness by providing mothers with a safe place to live during pregnancy. We also equip them with the tools they need to improve decision-making, enhance employment options, and increase family income to act responsibly as the head of their household. All of our services develop their self-reliance to progress to permanent independent living. Please join us in renewing and rebuilding the lives of these brave women – #Be1of5000.

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