Homelessness in America had already reached crisis levels before the pandemic began.
Now, as people struggle to make ends meet amid a historic economic downturn, the problem is only getting worse. A lack of affordable housing, expiring eviction protections and a wave of coronavirus-related layoffs have amplified an issue that municipalities around the country were already struggling to address before those in confined spaces could easily spread a deadly virus.
At last count, in 2019, more than 560,000 Americans were homeless, and 16.5% of them–about 92,000 people–were in New York State. New York City has the highest number of homeless people of any metropolitan area in the U.S., although Washington, D.C., has the highest per capita, and because of New York City’s extensive shelter system, Los Angeles has far more people living on the streets. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 40% of homeless people are African American[.]
Some projections made by independent organizations predict that if governments continue to do little to address the issue and aid those experiencing homelessness, levels will reach twice that seen during the Great Recession.
What are cities and states doing to help people without housing during and as a result of the pandemic?