People Experiencing Homelessness are Adversely affected by COVID-19
The Coalition for the Homeless did a preliminary study on the impact of COVID-19 in New York on people experiencing homelessness. These early numbers were extremely troubling.
As of June 1st, the overall New York City mortality rate due to COVID-19 was 200 deaths per 100,000 people. For sheltered homeless New Yorkers, it was 321 deaths per 100,000 people ? or 61 percent higher than the New York City rate. This means that many more homeless people have died from COVID-19 than would have been expected if they were dying at the same rate as all NYC residents. The reported New York State mortality rate as of May 29th was 152 deaths per 100,000 people.
As sad as this is (seeing the likely May mortality rates), the New York homeless population trends younger than in most of the country. Unfortunately, those rates could trend higher in other regions.
People Experiencing Homelessness are More Vulnerable
That troubling demographic data is one of the reasons for this populations particular vulnerability. From the National Alliance to End Homlessness:
Sheltered: 324,512 people over the age of 50 stayed in homeless shelters in 2016-2017, representing 23 percent of the entire shelter population.
Unsheltered: An estimated 107,194 individuals over the age of 45 were living unsheltered on a single night in 2019.
Growing Numbers: Even before the current health/economic crisis, the older adult homeless population was projected to trend upwards until 2030. For example, in Los Angeles, the 65+ population was expected to increase by 54 percent over the next five years.
Additionally, this populations suffers from unique but expected health complications.
Physical Health Problems
84 percent of unsheltered people
19 percent of sheltered people
Mental Health Problems
78 percent of unsheltered people
50 percent of sheltered people
Substance Abuse Conditions
75 percent of unsheltered people
13 percent of sheltered people
Trimbordity (Co-occurring physical health, mental health, and substance abuse challenges)
50 percent of unsheltered people
2 percent of sheltered people
And this is just the basics. Those experiencing homeless have trouble getting a proper diet, congregate often so as not to suffer lonely and dangerous street conditions, and don’t have access to proper hi-gene, etc.
A Rising Population
Over the last five years, primarily due to housing insufficiencies, the national homeless population has increased by 22%. With the economic conditions as they are, it’s hard to imagine this number going anywhere but up.
Solution: Build More Housing, FAST!
Permanent Supportive Housing is a “conservative” solution. Leaving a person on the street (not mentioning the moral obligation to do something) costs taxpayers $30,000 – $50,000 a year. Simply housing people has proven to be a fraction of that cost. Housing people in individuals units (permanent supportive housing or otherwise) accomplishes two MAJOR tasks: Getting God’s children off the street, and preventing them from dying from COVID-19 or other infectious diseases.
Please consider contributing to the National Alliance to End Homelessness so that these beautiful humans aren’t forgotten.