Protecting Yourself from the Coronavirus if You Don’t Have a Home of Your Own

Affordable Housing Crisis Leaves Households Experiencing Homelessness and Low-Income Households More Susceptible Coronavirus

Almost universally, public health officials are recommending the following advice:

  • Keep a stock of two weeks of supplies in your homes
  • Avoid crowds including groups of over 50 people, and 
  • Stay at home.
 
And schools in New Jersey and across the country have closed for periods of weeks at a time.
 
It is not hard to think of the issues these recommendations post for low-income households and households experiencing homelessness.
 
If you have no earned income or live paycheck to paycheck, how do you afford stocking up on two weeks of supplies to be prepared for a potential quarantine?  Or if you rely on public transportation because you cannot afford a car of your own, how do you transport your stockpile of supplies back to your home?
 
If you live in an overcrowded homeless shelter or rely on soup kitchens for housing and food, how do you avid a crowd of over 50 people?
 
And probably most critically, how do you follow the recommendation of staying at home if you do not have a home that you can afford or if you live doubled up with family and friends or spend your nights surfing from couch to couch.  
 
School closures pose a series of issues for families experiencing homelessness and low-income families.  How do you feed your children if you rely on federal feeding programs for breakfast, lunch, and an after school snack?  
 
How do you care for your children if you must still report to your job working in a supermarket or at a nursing home because you do not have the luxury of working remotely and now your children are home from school?  How do your children participate in online instruction if you do not have internet access at home or a computer for your children to use for homework?
 
A recent Brookings article, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus” reports on many of these issues.
 
And I think that author, Jenny Schuetz concludes with a very effective message
 
“For far too long, policymakers at all levels of government have failed to provide decent-quality, stable, and affordable housing to millions of Americans. In COVID-19, we’re only starting to see the devastating consequences of that failure.”  
 
Many of the problems that low-income households and households experiencing homelessness would be avoided if every American had safe, secure and affordable homes of their own.

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