Race in the Time of Corona: Homeless

By Lea Murray, CoBiz Race & Equity Ambassador

On Sunday I visited a homeless encampment behind Target along the Richmond Greenway. The purpose was to gather information for an emergency response COVID-19 grant. Collaborising is partnering with two other local nonprofits to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) and to organize community leadership groups aimed at improving health and sanitation conditions for unsheltered residents.

So, on this bright sunny afternoon, I had to look. I could not avert my eyes to avoid the dilapidated spaces the unsheltered call home. As we walked through the encampment the squalor that was always present was now clearly seen—my consciousness was awakened.

COVID-19 disproportionally impacts Black and Brown communities. Communities of color have higher rates of asthma, diabetes, hypertension, and other medical conditions that exacerbate susceptibility to the virus; not to mention less access to health care, less trust for the medical profession in general, and are more likely to live in food deserts. Homeless Black and Brown people suffer a more dire fate than their sheltered brothers and sisters. By default they reside in unsanitary conditions—a breeding ground for disease. COVID-19 adds an additional layer of devastation.

It is impossible to shelter in place without adequate shelter. Recognizing the harsh living conditions of the homeless, I’ve awakened to the reality that immediate support for the homeless is imperative.

What we need NOW is…

  • Funding to support homeless outreach and health monitoring
  • Portable toilets and handwashing stations for the unsheltered
  • Daily disinfecting and maintenance of portable sites
  • Garbage collection for encampments
  • Distribution of PPE (gloves, plastic bags, masks), and hand sanitizer
  • Real-time COVID-19 data disaggregated by city and race
  • Increased public health testing, tracing, and treatment for all

Contact me, Lea Murray, at Collaborising@gmail.com or 954-736-8343 to lend your support. Unsheltered people are residents of Richmond too!

About the author : CoBiz

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