By Julia Galperin
There has been such a strong opinion divide that has been developing in San Diego. The people of San Diego either have disgust or sympathy for them. They are the homeless. But it is about time that we stop shaming the homeless and start helping them especially throughout COVID-19 related hard times. Some important statistics that help put the issue of homelessness into perspective is:
There are about 567,715 people in the United States that are experiencing homelessness. Officially, 8756 homeless people are in San Diego County.
70% of people experiencing homelessness are individuals who live on their own or with other adults
30% are people, who has families with children
The recent COVID-19 outbreak has been hard on all of us, however imagine going through this without a home to go to at the end of the day, or to stay in during the quarantine. Homeless people have hard time to get nutricious food, especially while the restaraunts and the fast food chains were closed. Another issue is access to showers and hygiene products. Just imagine going through quarantine in the car, or in the tent or even without them. Those of us who are able to should help as much as possible.
As we know, COVID-19 is a higher risk for those who are 65 and over. However, people who experience homelessness age faster than those who live in houses as result of tough life conditions. Research also indicates that homeless people experience physical conditions that are usually seen in people who are 15-20 years older than them. This shows that many of these people who experience homelessness are at a high risk to becoming seriously ill from this pandemic. With COVID-19, meeting current health needs is putting an extreme strain on homeless service systems, especially those who have a large number of infected people. Therefore, we need to provide as much as we can. A good example of how we can help is serving individually packed meals, creating care packages with health products, donating to organizations, and so much more.
More specifically, I have been collecting money and serving individually wrapped meals to the Jewish Family Services Parking Lot Dinner Program. These are people who experience homelessness, but often work and are able to sleep in their cars because JFS opens up their parking lots to them. I think this is one out of many ways that you can help your community during these unusual times.