Homelessness after the COVID-19 Pandemic

Homelessness after the COVID-19 Pandemic

When we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness will continue to be an issue and there is a strong possibility that numbers are sure to increase. According to Crisis, Homelessness has been increasing year on year for the last 5 years. It is also very likely that the consequences of the pandemic, a possible recession and deep economic disparities will drive further increases.

What can we learn from the COVID-19 Pandemic? COVID-19 forced communities to confront new limitations and innovate through them to keep people safe. Those innovations were all driven by an obvious truth that housing is the basis for health. The question moving forward is whether the government, councils and authorities around the country have learnt lessons and connected the two. Also, whether they will provide necessary resources and policies to end homelessness.

Will the Government Prioritize Homelessness? Although it is difficult to truly understand the individual cases of homelessness, it is equally difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel in the near future. Many uncertainties still ascertain a robust plan to tackle this issue moving forward, made all the more complicated through financial insecurities. What will post Pandemic look like? How many years will it take to pay the enormous debts this pandemic has forced upon us? What impact will the pandemic have on social services and the economy? With all the focus on the rollout of the vaccination, it seems that a definitive solution is still years away.

How Will the Housing Market Respond? The pandemic has made it obvious that many people are now struggling to pay household bills and rent. Job losses, lockdowns and the disappearance of high street shops have heavily impacted on the lives of people. It is all the more evident with the depleting disposable income that households have access to. Post COVID-19, if property prices continue to rise, more and more people will be forced into renting houses. If the housing situation is not addressed as a matter of urgency, in the midst of widespread unemployment and recession, homelessness will surely increase.

Will we ever put the microscope on addressing Inequality? Awareness of many kinds of inequality must be examined. For instance, who are the most likely groups of people to become homeless? Have we identified certain disparities among a group of people who maybe at an increased risk of homelessness? Lessons need to be learnt and this includes seriously examining and getting help to those that so badly need it. Once the root of the problem is found, only then can we seriously begin to build solutions to eradicate a problem that should never exist in the 21st century in a developed country.

 

Extraordinary times require extraordinary people to step up: Working on the front line

Extraordinary times require extraordinary people to step up: Working on the front line

It was the end of 2019 when news first hit about a dangerous virus being spread across Wuhan in China. The City was shut down and the authorities did everything that they could to try and stop the spread. Alarm bells started ringing when cases were beginning to be detected around the world soon after. Nobody anticipated the devastation that was to come.

Fast forward a little over one year,  219 Countries and Territories around the world have reported a total of more than 92 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus COVID-19. With the death toll due surpassing 2 million, the pandemic has truly devastated lives and economies throughout the world. Yet behind the scenes, health workers have been working diligently on the frontlines since the very first cases appeared.

In moments of uncertainty about our health and our futures, we thank all those people who are working on the frontlines, witnessing the pandemic in real time and putting their lives at risk to save others.

In particular, and more than ever before, healthcare professionals are facing increasing rates of infection and endure back-to-back overtime shifts as they work to detect, treat, and prevent COVID-19 infections and illness, as well as managing other diseases and chronic conditions. Sacrifices do come at a cost, and as health workers sacrifice their time and efforts in looking after the public, they suffer from physical and mental exhaustion.

In unprecedented times like now we must absolutely commend the unselfish work and sacrifice of frontline health professionals.

Stringent health systems and the COVID-19 Vaccination

It’s no secret that diseases do not discriminate! COVID-19 has certainly not spared wealthy regions, with the United Kingdom, United States, Italy and Spain being some of the hardest hit countries. Resilient and adaptive health systems are essential to ensure that hospitals and clinics can function not only during normal times, but also in times of health crises. We often think that health systems strengthening applies to low- or middle-income settings, but mass cases in both Italy and the U.S. have demonstrated that unprepared health systems have led to a lack of personal protective equipment, delays in diagnostic testing, and overwhelmed hospitals.

Still there is new hope! COVID-19 vaccinations are being distributed in the millions and persistent social distancing partnered with a mass roll out of the vaccine will eventually take effect and bring back some sort of normality in the near future. Until then it is imperative that people listen to the advice provided by healthcare professionals.

Sacrifices made by healthcare professionals to help the communities

If we are to ever come out of this very tough period, Frontline health workers will have played a massive role in making that possible. Just as we are afraid of catching the virus, they too are just like us! They are afraid of getting infected, they are worried about the health of their loved ones and are uncertain of the long-lasting socioeconomic impacts of this pandemic. We are not out of the woods just yet! No doubt we will have to endure many more hard lessons along the way. If we want to look forward and rebuild our lives and our societies, we need to critically think about investing in resilient health systems and ensure that, should such an instance arise, that we are well prepared in the future. As individuals, we need to be aware of how public health threats affect our own health outcomes and our livelihoods.

Front line health staff, on a normal day, work hard to deliver quality healthcare. In these extraordinary times, they continue to dedicate themselves to treating diseases and alleviating suffering. Their contributions to you and our communities should not be ignored. Thank you to all of you who have kept us safe and to all those that continued to work through the pandemic to ensure that we have access to the services we need to survive.

Winter is here. COVID-19 is proving a major hurdle. What now for those experiencing Homelessness?

Winter is here. COVID-19 is proving a major hurdle. What now for those experiencing Homelessness?

What ramifications will continuous lockdowns have on the communities? And how long until we can truly assess the devastation this pandemic has caused? One thing is for sure, if things do not improve over the next few months, a looming eviction crisis is rightfully garnering a lot of attention: thousands of renting households will be at serious risk of eviction. But there is another crisis unfolding that has received very little attention: homelessness and the impact of COVID-19 on future numbers.

Councils typically try hard to provide shelter to bring people in from the cold. These programs are essential for preventing people from suffering and even dying outside, especially through the winter months. This year, people experiencing homelessness already are struggling with diminished shelter capacity and, for large portions of the UK, winter is already here. The battered economy will surely prove a catalyst for increasing numbers of homeless people and rough sleepers.

COVID-19 will limit congregation in crowded shelters

The risk of the spread of COVID-19 in shelters for the homeless is very high as it is difficult to ensure that the shelters remain COVID-19 secure. Shelters must equally practice social distancing and continue to provide an environment that is COVID-19 secure.  But this is proving a serious challenge with confined shelters used to house maximum numbers forcing more people on the streets in an effort to decrease numbers to control the spread of the virus through social distancing.

The government has been informed that a fresh round of funding is essential to avoid homeless people this Winter facing a choice of rough sleeping on the streets as temperatures plummet, or risking exposure to COVID-19 in unsafe night shelters.

Concern is also growing among charity workers that homelessness will rise in the very near future without a clear commitment from the government.

Responses from the Government and charities just haven’t been enough

A major response to the situation during the pandemic was for jurisdictions to secure hotel rooms to provide people experiencing homelessness safe, temporary housing. This strategy has certainly helped isolate people who were symptomatic and provided shelter to people in high-risk groups, such as older people or those with pre-existing medical conditions that could make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

Efforts to secure hotel rooms were necessary, charities have come together to do whatever they can also, but the combined effort is still not fulfilling the reality on the ground.

What can we do to address the situation?

The simplest way to deal with a lack of shelter capacity is to quickly house people. Rent assistance resources from aid and relief funds would provide a temporary solution over the winter months helping to re-house people experiencing homelessness in shelters and hotels. It would give them a place to live safe from COVID-19 and the cold.

We will also need to address the gaps in shelter by keeping hotels open or by expanding shelter in other ways. One silver lining is that people experiencing homelessness dislike congregate shelter facilities, citing lack of privacy, rigid rules, and harm to already marginalized groups, including people of colour and people from LGBT communities.

But right now, there are not enough shelter options of any kind. In the absence of shelter, people will be forced to live outside. A wave of evictions would prove disastrous, likely necessitating the growth of these types of strategies. If the government fails to provide urgent aid and support at the earliest, we will no doubt witness a real increase in the numbers of people who really will have nowhere to go.

Hunger rates are skyrocketing around the world.

Hunger rates are skyrocketing around the world.

Deep into one of the worst global pandemics, it seems that an immunisation is now on the horizon and soon we will discover what the new norms will be.

The coronavirus COVID-19 has affected 218 countries and territories around the world claiming more than 1.3 million lives so far, with figures expected to rise further.Immunisations are likely to be administered by late 2020 and rolled out across the world by the spring of 2021 which will help bring some level of control over the pandemic. Increases in testing and tracing, local lockdowns and following medical advice will eventually become an effective catalyst to help diminish the virus.

Rightly the world has turned attention to science in a bid to slow the spread as the virus continues to batter world economies. The limelight however has been taken away from the decades of great work done by UN organisations and charities worldwide in helping end hunger. Sadly, the pandemic is having devastating consequences on the worlds’ poorest and, what seemed like great work in reducing the number of people dying of hunger, it all seems to have been undone in such a short time.

Millions are on the brink of famine. Battered economies across the globe will surely have devastating consequences on foreign aid and the rise of food banks across western countries will be a matter of great concern.
According to the World food programme, one in nine people do not have enough to eat, reversing decades of progress in reducing world hunger.

Often it is women and girls who will suffer most with job losses and people struggling to provide for their families, social norms means that women and girls eat if there is any food left over after the men and boys have eaten.

In reality, more funding needs to be made available to tackle the impacts of COVID-19 across the globe. It is important to ease the burden in developed countries to reduce local lockdowns, wherever possible, and create jobs so that people can get back into employment as soon as possible.

In developing countries, the impact will be devastating and far stretched. “No one should view a slide into famine as an inevitable side effect of this pandemic,” said the U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock in a statement. Yet despite the statement, the true picture will only really emerge later in 2021 with the hope that the pandemic will be under some form of control and life as we knew it, is returned to some form of “new” normal.

One Love Worldwide will continue to support the vulnerable across the world beyond 2021. Thanks to our kind donors, we have managed to reach out to thousands of beneficiaries providing hygiene kits and food distribution. We will continue to help those most in need throughout the world as the impact of the pandemic stretches across the globe.