Citizens may take for granted how lucky they are, especially during the pandemic. I, as an eager, energetic high school student, am not an exception to feeling restless. I often find myself bitter at the world for causing such a widespread pandemic that has kept me cooped up in my room day after day. However, after questioning where the homeless sleep and how they are getting by during the pandemic, I’ve become ever so grateful for everything I have.
Pandemics undoubtedly plant panic into a society. Citizens look out for only themselves and the health of their loved ones. So, it’s not much of a surprise that the homeless don’t receive much attention during this time, despite their dire situations. For instance, the streets of Phoenix, Arizona host 200 tents standing only inches apart on the scorching hot gravel roads. These tents are inhabited by homeless citizens that have succumbed to covering themselves in blankets to protect themselves from the unwavering, desert sun. The residents of these sweltering streets lack hygienic products, including access to water and toilets. Additionally, the 12-foot-square sections painted in the gravel do very little to regulate social distancing due to overcrowding.
One may wonder if our society is proactively helping the homeless, seeing as almost nothing is known about the infections and deaths of one of the most vulnerable populations during the pandemic. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, the main federal agency that oversees homeless programs, has not ordered its global providers to gather information on homeless population statistics, explaining this lack of knowledge. However, not all hope is lost. Congress has allocated more than $4 billion of its funds to homeless-specific programs as a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. This money provides the homeless with resources for housing and other necessities for themselves, giving the population a fighting chance at maintaining their health during these perilous times.
Unfortunately, the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism later discovered that HUD had given homeless communities access to less than one-third of the allocated funds after 4 months of the act’s enactment. Furthermore, the homeless population is still in a dangerous position, as even those with access to these funds endlessly wait for federal guidelines on how they can spend this money. So, more must be done to help.
Many of us are lucky enough to be sitting in front of our computers or at a dinner table full of food. And although we may be preoccupied with the safety of ourselves and our loved ones, anyone and everyone is encouraged to help those in need. This can be even the smallest financial donations to relief programs, like The Midnight Mission, or even the donation of common household items, including napkins, utensils, and ready to eat meals. We must remember, we are not the only ones experiencing this pandemic.