Homelessness During COVID – Disaster Amplified

In any given year, there are about 235,000 Canadians that suffer from homelessness. That’s about 0.625% of the total population, a statistically “small” minority, which is, unfortunately, seeing its woes compounded due to winter and COVID.  

Homeless people rely on shelters to provide them a place to sleep and stay, especially during the cold winter nights when staying outside or in a makeshift shelter can be deadly disastrous. So it’s only logical that the shelters try to accommodate as many people as possible.

But that’s impossible due to COVID cases spreading. To mitigate the probability of transmission, shelters have reduced the number of people they take in. Needless to say, this is a significant blow to the homeless population of the country because during the second wave, more and more people are seeking shelter and less space is available. The lifting of the eviction ban has also added fuel to the fire.

To make matters worse, some shelter homes are being forced to close down or have been working at reduced capacity because the staff and residents have contracted the virus.

People are aware of the problem and are doing what little they can to remediate the situation like staging protests and urging the government to ramp up support. And shelters are using glass dividers in between beds to reduce the probability of transmission in close confines.

We can take lessons from international solutions to this problem, such as accommodating homeless populations in unused hotels (since the travel business is already suffering) or taking measures to contain homeless people to designated areas (by providing necessary amenities and shelter) to mitigate the possibility of transmission.

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