Economics/Class Relations

“Shelter in place” is impossible if you can’t afford a home

By Roge Karma


As of March 31, 270 million people in at least 33 states, 89 counties, and 29 cities across the US have been urged by their government officials to stay home. While these policies often come with seismic life disruptions, the vast majority of Americans are taking them seriously. Most of us don’t even think twice about it: We just stay home.

But “stay-at-home” orders are impossible to follow if you don’t have a home in the first place. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that there are around 550,000 homeless individuals on any given night in America (others estimate that around 2 million people find themselves homeless in a given year).

The coronavirus has exposed the massive weaknesses in our already lacking social support infrastructure for the homeless. Shelters are too understaffed, under-resourced, and crowded to enforce proper social distancing and hygiene measures. Outdoor encampments lack basic sanitation. In some instances, the homeless are being shuttled into empty parking lots and told to sleep on asphalt.


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