Washington, DC - Congress is about to pass an emergency spending bill that neglects the urgent needs of people experiencing homelessness, a glaring and appalling oversight. People experiencing homelessness are at high risk of both severe illnesses from coronavirus and of potentially spreading it to others given their inability to isolate or self-quarantine after being exposed to the illness. Providing resources to protect against an outbreak of coronavirus among people who are homeless is not only a moral imperative; it’s an urgent public health necessity.
Homeless service providers and outreach workers are doing their best to respond to tremendous new challenges, but they are understaffed and under-resourced. Throughout the week I’ve heard from some who can’t access hand-sanitizer, and others struggling to find, prepare and staff the spaces needed to allow people in shelters to self-isolate if they get the coronavirus or to protect highly vulnerable residents from exposure. They are counting on Congressional leadership to give them the funding they desperately need to keep their residents, themselves, and their communities safe.
Congress must quickly get back to work to provide these needed resources to shelter providers and to quickly and permanently house people who are homeless. The very least our country must do during a national health emergency, particularly when our collective protection against the spread of the illness depends on our ability to self-quarantine at home, is ensure that we house the lowest-income and most vulnerable people. It is equally important to ensure that more people are not pushed into homelessness through evictions or foreclosures; Congress should enact a national moratorium on both and provide temporary rental assistance to the lowest-income people in need.
About NLIHC: Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensure people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes.