Coronavirus: Social Isolation in Your Home Doesn’t Work if You Have No Home

Written By Will Kralovec

On March 15, 2020

From the laptop of JJK Places’ President:

The Brookings Institution has put out a sobering article describing how the coronavirus is causing a new spotlight on our country’s lack of adequate housing.

Social isolation orders and shelter-in-place requirements across the country are fine if you have a home to do it in. But what about our homeless population? And what about those members of our  population who suffer from housing insecurity, many of whom work jobs in businesses that have shut down and have laid-off/furloughed millions of formerly employed individuals? Many of these households consequently face an uncertain future. Becoming homeless is now a very real and scary possibility for them.

More than 500,000 people across the U.S. are homeless, roughly 40% of whom are unsheltered (living on streets, parks, and other open spaces). The remaining 60% live in temporary homes, including cars, shelters, or doubled-up with family. In a recent Curbed piece, Alissa Walker described the many challenges that homeless individuals face in trying to protect themselves from COVID-19, including hand-washing and storing food, which are critical obstacles…

…The poorest 20% of U.S. households spend more than half their monthly income on rent. Any loss of income—say, food service workers having their hours reduced as fewer people patronize restaurants—will put these households behind on their rent, increasing their risk of becoming homeless.