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The Homeless During the Covid-19 Pandemic

As we all know, the COVID19 pandemic has incited so much fear in us that as it spreads, so does our natural tendency to take extra care of ourselves and our family. News outlets and doctors constantly remind us that as long to stay at home and maintain social distance. Many of us can afford to stay home and be safe from the virus. Unfortunately, there are quite a number of people who are more vulnerable than ever.

Homelessness is a problem that has been around for years now, not just in Australia but in most affluent countries too. With the crazy pandemic that’s been paralyzing many of us today, is there anywhere safe for homeless people?

According to latest reports, COVID19 poses an even bigger threat to those with poor access to shelter, food, and proper hygiene. Although the virus is not considered airborne, the fact that it can be transmitted through droplets and close contact with other make homeless people susceptible to it. Many agencies and charitable organizations worry that so many of these people are being left behind. The outbreak will put pressure on a lot of these institutions because homeless people rely heavily on them.

In regional Victoria, Shepparton has the highest population of homeless people and these people rely on charitable efforts for their daily needs. Now that there’s an ongoing health problem that’s not only on a nationwide, but on worldwide scale, charities and organizations are pressured to do more. The corona virus attacks the immune system, and people who have underlying conditions are particularly vulnerable. Rough sleepers that have no access to clean and safe environment are in danger of actually contracting the virus.

Many efforts to reduce the number of homeless people have been done over the years. However, there are still so many things to work on. One of the most effective ways to prevent the virus from spreading even further is isolation. But seems like that’s really impossible for the homeless because their lives are about wandering. Their exposure to extreme weather conditions could definitely affect their health, which

This poses the question, how can we, as a community help them?

Different organizations are calling for more temporary housing to be built that would really make a huge difference in these people’s lives. This should have been part of the pandemic planning, but because nobody expected this turn out the way it has, it was not prioritized. Australia has an estimated number of about 116,000 homeless people. Many volunteers already took some time off because of the current situation and that huge social gatherings are temporarily banned for the safety of many.

This crisis is a huge wake up call to end homelessness. The Victorian Government announced a $6 million support to organizations to continue helping the homeless especially during this time. This is meant to cover three months to support the homeless and hopefully reduce the number of rough sleepers. However, there’s still more that we can do.

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