SEATTLE, Washington — In the midst of a global pandemic, many people worldwide are struggling to find ways to survive without income or resources. This is especially difficult for homeless individuals who already struggled for income, resources and shelter. Homeless people make up 2% of the world population, which is approximately 150 million people. Approximately 20% of people, or 1.6 billion people, worldwide lack adequate housing. However, governments are stepping in to help protect the homeless during COVID-19.
6 Protections For The Homeless During COVID-19
- Homeless people are at least two times as likely to contract the coronavirus, become hospitalized due to complications and die from it than the general population. It is also generally difficult to record numbers and symptoms on homeless people as they are almost always understated. Those who lack housing are no longer being seen as invisible, but a public health issue that requires a solution.
- Housing, water and access to sanitary products are all privileges that homeless people worldwide do not have. Shelters are no longer able to provide safe havens for the homeless as there is no ability to social distance, sanitize or separate people in such small spaces. This also leaves many out on the street who cannot fit in the shelters. Consequently, the Netherlands has pledged 200 million euros to provide resources to homeless people during COVID-19.
- The United Kingdom pledged GBP 3.2 million to provide financial assistance, providing accommodations for homeless people to self-isolate and social distance. The U.K. provided an extra GBP 492 million to continue funding to end homeless during this crisis. Emergency funds will now be set aside for the next crisis that will directly affect the housing insecure.
- France pledged approximately 50 million euros to provide secure housing and proper resources to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout housing insecure communities. Similar to the U.K., France opened up hotel rooms to the homeless. Additionally, France pledged another 15 million euros to create a voucher program for homeless people. This would help them purchase food and hygiene products to help keep them safe during the pandemic.
- In Germany, officials in Berlin began opening up emergency shelters and provided 350 beds for full-time use with no time restriction. Additionally, the facility provided medical and psychological services to keep the patrons’ health in mind. Germany was able to get 350 housing insecure off the street and give them access to long-term care, which prevents further spreading or contracting of the coronavirus.
- Canada developed a recovery center after at least 30 homeless individuals contracted COVID-19. It set aside 400 beds for homeless individuals who tested positive. Here they would receive round the clock care from medical professionals working pro-bono from Doctors Without Borders. Also, since April, Canada has relocated approximately 2,000 people from overcrowded shelters into hospitals and hotels.
The pandemic has been a struggle for everyone worldwide. The circumstances have been grim even for those who do have access to hygiene products and shelter. Thus, it is hard to imagine how much more dire the circumstances are for those who are housing insecure. Yet, all over the world, governments are protecting the homeless during COVID-19. However, there are still so many that have slipped through the cracks. Thankfully, everyday people bring forth solutions like these to help the homeless during COVID-19. Thus, these are just a few of the ways governments are protecting homeless people in worldwide cities during this pandemic.
– Kim Elsey