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.