Health Crisis Exacerbates California’s Housing Crisis
For decades now, California has been open and proud about their large umbrella for any sort of lifestyle, proclivity, nationality, or anything else that can come into the state. They want to redefine what “diversity” means, and so they offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants, special privileges afforded to certain marginalized communities, and many cities within the state sanction open-air drug markets where homeless populations surge out of control.
All of this was California before the Covid-19 pandemic, where reports were coming out of places like San Francisco about the Bubonic plague returning. So one can only imagine how badly California’s situation has become since the virus pandemic.
According to CDC numbers, California is right around 10,000 cases of Coronavirus confirmed. Santa Clare, Los Angeles and San Diego, home to three very large homeless populations, are near the top of the list of infected. What’s so alarming here is that the state’s at-risk population has no way of receiving accurate tests. There are tens of thousands of homeless people in the streets, and no one knows if they have Covid-19 or not.
Experts claim that, in reality, California likely has over 50,000 cases of Covid-19, though unconfirmed. The reasoning here is that even people who are practicing social distancing, like Amazon employees, are still contracting the virus, despite being safe about how they go about making contact. Employees in six separate Amazon sites in the state have tested positive for Covid-19. So the experts suggest that if it’s that bad among the employed people with homes, the homeless are likely bearing a far disproportionate burden, as they do in most other walks of life.
Though unlike previous times in the state’s history, California is doing what they can. They’re turning a lot of properties into homeless shelters. They’re working hard to suspend evictions. They want to keep people indoors, where they’re not at as much risk for contracting the virus. However, much of California’s homeless population is long-term homeless, not people who are new to the circumstance. So this leads many of the population to stay outside and out of shelters.
For instance, there is a homeless tent city in Echo Park in Los Angeles, where resident Ayman Ahmed actually suggested that he and his homeless brethren are “safer out here than in a shelter.” This sort of sentiment is shared with many of California’s homeless population, who unfortunately are homeless for reasons outside of economic inequality; rather, they have been willing participants in the state’s open-air drug market. This obviously isn’t the bulk of the population, but many residents enjoy their lives on the street because it’s a lifestyle they’ve chosen to live.
California’s problem is in how to keep those people, the willing homeless, from getting sick and having it spread. It sounds like a terrible thing to say, to suggest that anyone would be willingly homeless. However, when interviewed, a frighteningly large portion of LA’s and San Fran’s homeless populations refer to it as a lifestyle choice. So keeping these people healthy is important. How does one do that if they’re refusing shelters and medical care?
How California Can Curb the Spread
According to the experts who work to create the guidelines for CDC in terms of infectious diseases and viral agents, the goal here should be to have other people avoid the homeless, not the other way around. According to something experts said years ago, when there was a homeless problem in New York City, “Giving the appearance of stigmatizing the homeless is better than alternative scenarios.” What this means in the context of the Coronavirus is that if avoiding homeless people gives off a snobbish, elitist appearance, or makes it appear as if that population is being ignored, it’s better than having the virus spread to more and more people. This is especially true if the homeless people start
Contracting the virus. They’re far more at-risk and will likely not recover at the same rate as healthy people receiving good medical care.
It’s going to be tough in every metro area in the nation. People in cities gather up; it’s what they do. They’re centers of commerce. That’s not changing either; people are still gathering in cities, especially the homeless. So according to some, the best thing California can do right now is to have everyone else avoid the homeless. Not because there’s fear of homeless people getting others sick, but just the opposite. The idea is for people not to risk infecting the homeless, who may not survive.
No matter what steps end up taken, they need to happen quickly, before it does spread throughout the entire homeless population of the state.
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