The coronavirus also known as COVID-19 has shaken up the world, sparking panic and economic instability. Governments around the world instruct their citizens to practice social distancing, use corresponding equipment like masks, gloves, and sanitizers, stay away from the elderly, and stay at home unless they have to go out.
And, while the world leaders fight to establish conditions for a trustworthy vaccine, develop new methods of treatment and study the virus, take measures to prevent the global economics from plummeting, not many wonder how what homeless during Coronavirus Pandemics do. In this article, we’ll highlight the safe ways you can help homeless people around your home as well as globally.
At the moment of writing this article, there are 3,192,191 infected people and 226,284 deaths caused by the consequences of the virus, and the exponential curve that indicates newly infected and deceased continues to grow. Some estimates show that there are over 150 million people who are homeless. Being outside without adequate shelter, food and healthcare leave those people exposed to hunger, various dangers, and diseases among which is the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 that has been wildling around the world for nearly five months.
Homeless People Are Hungry
People without home depend on pedestrians and passengers in a great matter, as well as the major restaurants that leave leftovers of food for people who can’t afford the food to get it. However, the lethal consequences of the novel virus led many governments to shut down their borders stopping tourists, shut public facilities like cafes, restaurants, and other gathering places. Additionally, lockdown is issued in a great number of European countries, leading to less interaction between homeless people and those who provide financial aid or food, as reported by the Guardian.
The publication also states that rough sleepers and those who live in community facilities don’t account for social distancing and don’t get adequate sleeping space nor food.
Absurd Fines In Europe
Italy is the third most affected country in the world and second in Europe, with a total of 203, 591 thousands of infected. The Guardian reports that homeless people in Rome have been receiving fines for not staying locked in their homes. However, the moral concern that rises from this practice is where can those without home life and how can they avoid this absurd fining?
The only thing homeless during Coronavirus pandemics in Italy can do is write an appeal to the interior ministry and highlight the leniency they’ve been exposed to. If homeless are without the comfort of a warm and cozy home, as well as hygiene and nutritional conditions, how can they possibly appeal?
Moreover, in the shortage of masks and other medical equipment, it became increasingly challenging to reach out to them. Many pharmacies put the unrealistic price tags, on masks and gloves, often three times the price before the virus outbroke.
As WIRED writes, even without the outbreak raged, a lot of homeless people roamed around the city streets without any shelter. As Fortune reported last month, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom estimated that there could be 60,000 homeless people infected with COVID-19, adding that the two-thirds of the homeless population lives well-outside. With the number of infected skyrocketing in the USA, particularly New York, this number could grow even more.
How Can You Help The Homeless During Coronavirus Pandemics?
As a precautionary measure, epidemiologists, virologists, immunologists, and other experts advise us to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds, sanitize and desiccate food and objects we buy outside, stay at home or wear protective masks and gloves outside. However, for unsheltered people even washing hands is a luxury. Here’s how you can help the homeless around you get through this disturbing crisis.
Governments advise and even force social distancing. But you can still help.
Help With Food Preparation
Due to restriction measures, shelters, soup kitchens, and national cafeteria-like kitchens no longer provide support for the homeless. The grab-and-go-like services are under huge pressure and load, making food preparation and delivery extremely challenging, especially with no servers and waiters who can’t provide food directly to the people asking for it.
If you have the means to afford meals for more people than your family, as well as fuel, you can arrange to provide extra meals to the homeless people around you. However, it’s important to wear protective gear while preparing and distributing the meals to the people in need. Many drive-through services will be happy to accept help.
Even though it’s hard to restock and pile on protective gear and gloves as everyone needs them, make sure to wear it and replace them frequently if they’re intended for temporary use. Don’t forget to self-quarantine if you discover that someone you were in contact with was exposed or has the virus.
Also, many programs in the USA provide care and opportunity for homeless people to clean themselves before they receive the food package.
Distribute Hygiene Products As Close As You Can
Above we mentioned how hard it is for unsheltered people and rough sleepers to reach out to hygiene items and clean themselves. While the organizations providing means for hygiene are vast, it’s still a lot of people to serve.
Everyone knows that it became extremely difficult for people to reach out to the basic hygiene items. Many shops, pharmacies, and groceries lack on hand sanitizers, disinfectants, soaps, toilet paper, alcohol, shower gels, and shampoos, making it even more for the homeless to get them.
For many homeless people, unfortunately, it’s become a force of habit to roam around uncleaned, which also leads to different health implications. Those rough conditions make them even more exposed and vulnerable to the lethal virus. These days, it’s even more important to provide the necessary equipment to keep them sanitized and of good hygiene.
If you stocked up on hygiene products and feel like you won’t use all of them, try to deliver and distribute them to the homeless shelter. Those people are scared too and would appreciate someone kind and good to provide them the means to keep clean, as well as their family.
Still don’t forget to wear masks and gloves, as getting sick won’t do you any good.
Help From The Shadows
Unfortunately, not everyone can leave the house and be able to help at the main scene. There are a lot of people who are vulnerable to the virus – those with weak immunity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, kidney problems, and other vulnerabilities. However, that shouldn’t stop those with a big heart from providing reliable help, even from behind the scene.
Help Clean The Shelters
If you’re young, of good health, and have some medical background, you could be of great help in the homeless shelter. With hygiene standards and cleaning procedures becoming more rigorous, you can help the shelters by either providing the necessary cleaning and disinfection products or helping clean the shelters in person. It’s easy to do and doesn’t require a lot of cleaning.
Still, don’t forget to keep yourself protected with masks and gloves, that you can change regularly. If you get sick, you can’t be useful to anyone needing help, so make sure to take good care of yourself.
Another thing you can do, if you feel discouraged from helping in person or have an ongoing chronic condition is to donate money. There are a lot of local nonprofits looking forward to any help they can get to distribute help to the homeless. Those agencies also focus on volunteers and now that there are not a lot of volunteers, it’s important to keep those organizations alive by providing needs they can use to help the poor. Another thing you can do is donate money to the local shelters that aid the homeless through this crisis.
A lot of agencies will also happily accept food donations. Moreover, a lot of organizations are quite desperate when it comes to providing enough food for those who can’t get it on their own. It’s understandable that the coronavirus crisis also caused a lot of people to lose their jobs, but if there’s a way you can provide donations and give a little more than usual, that could mean life to someone who doesn’t enjoy the same benefits as you.
Here are the additional resources you can visit to help the homeless overcome this crisis.
- Homeless Shelter Directory
- Backpack Bed
- End Homelessness
- Feeding America
Some means of helping also demands you to be on the frontline. One of such methods is volunteering. As you may know, COVID-19 is known to have fatal consequences for the elderly, which leads to them being restricted from going outside. A lot of homeless people are elderly which means they’re additionally exposed to the virus. If it’s possible to join up with some organizations and help with food packaging, delivery, and distribution, many would highly appreciate it.
Other Things You Can Donate
There are a few other things you can donate.
- Clean and fresh sheets, linen, blankets, and pillow. The rough sleepers usually sleep in parks and other pedestrian zones. Try to find a safe way to distribute those to some locals you know have nowhere to sleep.
- Providing reliable and objective information about the virus is of utmost importance even for the homeless. Providing old gadgets like phones, power banks, and other things may provide that information to people who can find a means to recharge them and connect to the open-sourced internet networks to stay up to date with the number of infected, symptoms and other scientifically-backed information.
- Disinfects including bleach, Lysol, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide.
- Fluids – It’s important to stay hydrated. Try to find safe ways to distribute water or teas.
- Thermometers – Many experts warn that one of the first and most common symptoms of COVID-19 is a mild fever. If you have extra thermometers, distribute them to those who need it.
Most importantly, the most trustworthy and heartwarming thing you can provide is shelter. If you own a second home, an apartment, studio, or a weekend cottage, it’d be a great help to those who have nowhere to live. If you’re able to provide that, some lives could be saved, safe, and sound under the roof of a cozy housing.
Precautions To Take
It’s important to note that nothing will stay like it was before, volunteering now isn’t the same as volunteering a few months ago. Inform yourself about the best precautions to take. Here are some important things to keep in mind.
The feeling you get after helping someone can be overwhelming. In the past, people could usually handshake you, kiss or hug you. That’s no longer socially acceptable in the environment we live in. Homeless people may be misinformed about the risks of this close social activity, but you need to remain mature and composed to maturely explain to them the social distancing methodology everyone is practicing right now and avoid close contact.
If you’re afraid of catching the virus from someone you’ve helped and ended up in close contact with, that’s why it’s important to work with organizations. You can use CharityNavigator to learn about charity organizations near you.
Always go out with masks and gloves and wash your hands frequently. Don’t be in close contact with people you believe were exposed. Carry a hand sanitizer with you and change gloves frequently. Also, don’t touch nose, mouth, or eyes, as the virus was proved to make its way to your lungs and bloodstream through the given entrances.
Lastly, if you believe you were in close contact with someone manifesting the symptoms, be responsible towards your family, friends, and environments and self-quarantine from 14 to 28 days.