HUD released 2020 numbers for the homeless population last month. The numbers were based on a count in January of 2020, according to Pam Fessler’s report on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” March 18. By now, those 2020 figures are fifteen months behind us.
The number represents a 2% increase and those are pre-pandemic numbers. HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said, “…we know the pandemic has only made the homelessness crisis worse.”
Our NVF Outreach Team has seen that. Many shelters have limited the number of beds they can safely offer. So we’re dealing with depleted stocks of housing, both temporary and permanent.
Then there’s the elevated risk of people living in crowded homeless tent communities under substandard conditions. They’re at greater risk for not just Covid-19, but other diseases. People living on the streets, without any shelter? Hard to imagine…
As homelessness grows, we’re likely to see surges of infection as variants of the Coronavirus rise and spread. This possibility pushes herd immunity further into the future than any of us want to see.
As is often the case with Veterans’ issues, there’s a special note of bad news in the report that struck all of us at the NVF: the number of homeless veterans and their families increased for the first time in many years. That’s especially troubling given that more people are at risk of losing housing as eviction moratoriums expire.
The double weight of reduced or lost employment coupled with the resumption of evictions can have no other consequence than an escalating number of homeless in a city already under stress. One-quarter of the homeless across the nation live in Los Angeles or New York. You heard that right: one-quarter. That’s on top of the fact that California has the largest population of homeless in the country.
So you bet we’re gearing up. We’re expanding our capability for Outreach and we could sure use some help getting masks, water, food, personal hygiene items, hope and a message that we care out to those on the streets. Those last two? That’s no small thing: hope and a message that we care.
Join us by donating at https://nvf.org/veterans-donations/. About the hope and the message? We‘ve got that covered. It’s what we’ve done for the past 35 years, going on 36, but who’s counting?
If you know a vet who needs help, here’s our Lifeline for Vets number: 888.777.4443.