Whoa! I had an eye-opening moment today that I think is important to share with each of you. As I was scrolling through my email, I came across an article from Marie Claire, titled “I’m Homeless, how can I self-quarantine?” The article focuses on Marth Escudero, a 42-year-old homeless woman in California.
As we are all sorting out how to handle the Covid-19 pandemic we are told to distance ourselves from others and stay home. But… what if you don’t have a home? Call me sheltered and naive; but up until reading this article it hadn’t occurred to me how fortunate I am during this time to have walls to isolate in and a roof over my head as I stay home from work like so many others.
In the article, by Colleen Hagerty, she discusses the hardships the homeless population is facing right now as the world is told to stay home and self-isolate. Escudero and her two children live in California; which happens to have the highest homeless population in the nation.
Even though Escudero works as a caregiver a couple of days a week, it’s not enough to help secure a home for her and her two children.
Her work situation is one of many unknowns she’s facing in the days and weeks ahead, and it’s in part this swirl of uncertainty
Doesn’t that line from the article hold true for most of us? There are so many unknowns in our everyday lives right now. Will I still go into work next week? Will I be laid off? Will any of my loved ones contract the virus? How will I financially survive this?
The article reveals Escudero, her children, and a few other families illegally took residence in a home. Which normally I would condone, but those down on their luck deserve the same chance to avoid the pandemic as those who sit high in their marble castles waiting for this to all end.
I found it interesting in the article it discussed the current California governor, Gavin Newsom, declared those who are homeless are exempt from the “shelter in place ordinances”.
Is this the best thing to do? Let’s take homeless man A who does not need to abide by the ordinance. Man A is walking the streets and goes to a local soup kitchen for dinner. While there he interacts with female B who takes her used fork to try out some of his pasta. Unknown to either of them, female B will soon test positive for the Covid-19 virus. She has just passed the virus onto the man who; because he is homeless can roam about the community as he pleases. A few days later he meets up with his partner Man C where they exchange bodily fluids as they kiss. You get the idea. But on the flip side; if the shelter in place ordinance was enforced than the local homeless shelters and converted community centers are going to become overwhelmed and there may not be enough supplies, food, ect for them all.
Am I alone in thinking this is a damn if you do and damn if you don’t situation? What’s worst; it shouldn’t be a situation in the first place!
You are introduced to Benito Flores, a 64-year-old man who also take residence in the home with Escudero. He has watched the communities’ renting situation skyrocket forcing him and many others to live in their vehicles and on the streets.
Flores, Escudero, and Ruby Gordillo, a 33-year-old mother of three; were squatting in a home for protection from the global pandemic. They call themselves “reclaiming our homes” with the idea they would find space to feel safe at this, while bringing light to the struggling homeless population.
In the article Escudero and Gordillo make it clear during an assembly on move-in day they were not squatters. They have been paying taxes to the state which own the home they now reside in. A few decades ago CalTrans purchased a number of homes anticipating a freeway expansion that never occurred.
With so many vacant homes and a need for more housing for the homeless in California; is this a good idea for a group of people without a stable resident to take over an abandoned home? You will see Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, acknowledged he is open to the idea of transforming these abandoned homes into affordable housing. Personally, I think that is a great idea. The biggest concern that comes to me in this moment is how do you ensure the residents and neighbors stay safe? Can those on low-income afford the mortgages plus utilities plus home insurance?
For now, I will keep all of those down on their luck in my prayers as they deserve the same forms of protection that I am receiving. While I’m sure some would suggest natural selection; that is not the answer. We are all in this together; the old, young, rich, poor, educated, and disabled.
Please share with me your options and insight into this topic.
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