Homelessness Has Been a Nationwide Issue for Decades…So Why Did It Take Corona-Virus for Politicians To Take Action?
Did you know that there are currently 2.5 million homeless children in the United States? That’s 1 in 30 children. In 2019, there were 567,715 homeless adults in the U.S. These are staggering numbers and I’ve always thought of homelessness as a problem that shouldn’t take place in the wealthiest country in the world. I’ve wondered for many years why cities have money to upgrade ballparks but not enough to build shelters. Since the Corona-virus crisis, my thoughts of the government’s neglect of the homeless have increased. There are things I’ve noticed that bug me about the government officials that are suddenly becoming “resourceful”, if you’d like to call it that! Here are the specific things that stick out to me:
The state with the highest estimated rate of homeless people is Washington, D.C. That’s right, Washington D.C., which happens to be where the White House and Capital Hill are located. Capital Hill is where the House of Representatives and Senate make laws. This is literally where bills are signed into law. The White House is where the president of the U.S. is located...yet this state has the highest rate of homelessness? I wonder why no bills to protect the homeless have ever come to the senate floor, especially as a “state of emergency”?
Congress is worried about all of the taxpayers being protected from the virus. They are also worried about children that do not have access to food when school isn’t in session. It’s a good thing that they have these concerns and are proactive about solving the problem. But what about those that are more prone to getting the virus due to being outdoors and possibly making contact with a virus carrier? Why don’t they discuss how the homeless can get tested? I’ve yet to hear any member of Congress from either party have concern for this, or at least, discuss it in a public setting.
California, which is home to eighteen Fortune 500 companies, has 108,432 of this country’s non-sheltered adults. This is 53% of this country’s homeless adults. It’s mind blowing how California can have such a high rate of homelessness with so many wealthy companies in that state. I’m not sure how the governor and other government officials in California aren’t more passionate about solving California’s homeless problem.
Since the Corona-virus crisis, California’s governor has been proactive in protecting Californians against this virus. He even declared a state of emergency and required “sheltered in place” for San Francisco. Yet, I haven’t heard this governor ever declare a state of emergency or have press conferences about homelessness and how he plans to combat it. He spoke about how to bring food to children but never mentioned how he will feed the children that have no address.
New York has a large number of homeless children and adults too. The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has been a great leader in his efforts of protecting New Yorkers from the virus. He has been on top of the testing, quarantine, and overall efforts to curtail the virus. He even worked with the military to build tent hospitals and supply medical equipment. He expresses concern about running out of hospital beds for current and future Corona-virus patients.
Also, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on April 11th that 6,000 homeless individuals would be relocated into empty hotel rooms. Of those 6,000 individuals, 3,500 have already been transferred to commercial hotels used as shelters prior to the pandemic and 500 have been put in isolation.
This is great news but he stated that the reason for sheltering the homeless was to prevent the spread of the Corona-virus. In other words, he only cares about protecting New Yorkers that have an address from the people that don’t. This is only my assumption, but given that these efforts to shelter the homeless weren’t done before the pandemic, one could only come to that conclusion. It bothers me that the state of homelessness in New York was not considered a state of emergency until now. After all, how can the issue of homeless children in the street be seen as anything other than something that shouldn’t exist and should be urgently addressed.
The Corona-virus pandemic is teaching many Americans about social issues that have been ignored for way too long. We should all be grateful that some of our homeless Americans have a roof over their heads, but this pandemic has spotlighted that there are resources available to help more homeless people. We just need politicians that are more in tune and empathetic enough to take the action needed to eliminate the existence of homelessness.
© 2020 Melissa Pitts