Category Archives: Homeless

Is there a Willingness to Provide a Home to the Homeless?

In the public interest.

The real issue with housing is inequality not the lack of housing. The priorities changed as government focused on business priorities over social priorities as it was considered of value.

Having been homeless for 2.5 years (5 years update) I have seen the prejudice and the lack of empathy. I regard home is where the heart is. So until people feel for the homeless as their own family, which may expand with these events such as fires and COVID-19, ordinary people falling into homelessness might save the lives ultimately of those who are part of the 116,000 homeless people (more now 2023) who have not been assisted in a way that empowers rather than maintains dependency for those on welfare.

Those not on welfare are excluded no matter the plan, as they have to pay rent and when you have no money you can’t pay rent, what then?

The emergency is lack of love in my view. Economic value over shared humanity. Those that feel motivated to do something typically see profit in it. It is when they do it for nothing, they get my attention. They may say that is not practical, but I would say I am interested in those who come together, regardless of money, who see those others as themselves, that is when they end homelessness. You are me in reality.

Loren Elliott/AAP

The need to house everyone has never been clearer. Here’s a 2-step strategy to get it done

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us our health is intimately connected to the health of the person next to us, and that everyone needs shelter. It has created unprecedented urgency about moving people who are homeless into emergency accommodation – for their health and ours. So what happens next?

Getting people into hotel and motel rooms and off the streets is a good thing, but these are stopgap measures. They don’t provide a home.

Read more: 6 steps towards remaking the homelessness system so it works for young people

The rush to shelter people before the peak of the virus has been driven by a pressing need to protect us all. As the only seven-day-a-week mobile outreach service still operating in Victoria, Launch Housing has temporarily housed 800 people, half of whom were sleeping rough. So what will happen to them and the thousands of other Australians in emergency accommodation when social-distancing restrictions ease and our world returns to something resembling normal?

Will they exit back into street homelessness to become the face of fear and stigma, while the rest of the community returns to more social activities?

A way to find homes right now

Australia has a significant but solvable homelessness problem, so let’s start solving it right now.

Image: AAP, Author provided

To avoid people being deposited back onto the streets, we’re asking state and territory governments to fund a rapid spot-purchasing program. The Victorian government has done it before on a smaller scale in 2016, and it worked. It’s time to do it again, but on a bigger scale and around the country.

The spot-purchasing program would fund community housing agencies to enter the property market to buy up “distressed” or cheap housing assets. These properties would be let at below market rent to people who pay 30% of their income as a social rent.

Vendors and developers would get much-needed sales and thousands of people would get a home. Taxpayers would get an enduring social benefit for years to come, as expensive nightly motel bills – without any long-term benefit – get converted to community-owned property assets.

We estimate the program would cost about A$210 million in Victoria and a similar amount in other states. It costs more to treat street homelessness than it does to fix it. So, it makes economic and social sense to put the fix in now.

This is our mirror moment. We simply can’t afford to drop people when no one is looking and attention turns elsewhere.

People in emergency accommodation can’t wait years for new housing to be built. They (and we) need those homes now while longer-term solutions are developed.

Meeting rising needs in the longer term

Many people who are not homeless have lost jobs or had their work hours cut, and are facing their first-ever brush with housing insecurity. They are struggling, paying more than 30% of their income for housing.

There was a housing crisis before this latest upheaval, and these conditions haven’t changed. Rents were too high and there weren’t enough affordable homes.

Read more: Growing numbers of renters are trapped for years in homes they can’t afford

The health and economic fallout from COVID-19 has exposed the urgent need for more homes that are cheaper to rent for people on moderate, low or no incomes.

Crucially, we are also calling for the Australian government to fast-track the building of more social and affordable housing as part of an economic stimulus package.

A national social housing stimulus package will help get people back to work, speed the recovery, give the building industry the confidence to retain more workers and put roofs over people’s heads.

Read more: Why the focus of stimulus plans has to be construction that puts social housing first

Initiatives to fund the construction of new social housing could be rolled out quickly. The industry capacity is there to do it, in partnership with the community housing sector.

The early stages of the stimulus would bring forward maintenance and new construction projects that are already on the drawing board.

By targeting locations with transport and facilities but high levels of rental stress, new social housing buildings can be built quickly and integrated well into local communities.

The stimulus should be designed to encourage new mixed housing models, including properties that are “built to rent”.

It would increase the supply of social housing for households that are homeless, or at risk of becoming so, and would stimulate the building, maintenance and construction industry.

Read more: Australia’s social housing policy needs stronger leadership and an investment overhaul

A building-led recovery

The program would build on the Social Housing Initiative that was launched in response to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Some 20,000 new social housing units were built throughout Australia.

This time, we think it is possible to deliver 30,000 new units. Community housing organisations could raise extra private finance to build another 5,000 homes.

We’ll need this social infrastructure more than ever after the pandemic. Rental stress and homelessness are increasing and the lack of low-price rental housing are issues we can no longer ignore.

Read more: Is social housing essential infrastructure? How we think about it does matter

The pandemic has created some very real challenges, but it also creates some unique opportunities to accelerate progress on ending homelessness, to recognise our interconnectedness and to give people the best possible protection of all – a home.

This article was co-authored by Bevan Warner, CEO of Launch Housing.

San Francisco coronavirus spending $5 million to clean Homeless Shelters

In the public interest.

San Francisco is spending $5 million to deep-clean homeless shelters and SROs as the coronavirus outbreak threatens the city’s most vulnerable residents

Melia Robinson/Business Insider
  • San Francisco is spending $US5 million to protect members of its homeless population amid a coronavirus outbreak in the city.
  • The funding will be used to hire cleaning crews that will sanitize homeless shelters, supportive housing buildings, and SROs daily.
  • San Francisco now has 13 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease and is taking precautions to contain the disease, but those living on the streets are more at risk of contracting infectious diseases.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The city of San Francisco is funelling $US5 million into protecting the 25,000 people living in the city’s homeless shelters and in single-room occupancy (SRO)

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Monday that dozens of workers will be hired to be part of a cleaning crew that will regularly deep-clean the shelters, supportive housing buildings, and the SRO’s, which are funded by the city. The money will also be used to keep shelters, including Navigation Centres, open 24/7.

Meal offerings will also be made more available at shelters and SROs to encourage occupants to stay indoors. The funding will allow the city to keep up with the daily cleaning and the around-the-clock shelter hours for a few months, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The city of San Francisco now has 13 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19. The mayor declared a state of emergency on February 25 that would make it easier for officials to access resources and funding needed to address a potential outbreak. Companies are advising employees to work from home, large events exceeding 50 people are banned at city-owned facilities until March 20, and some of the biggest annual tech conferences to be held in the city have been cancelled or turned into virtual events in an attempt to contain the disease.

But those living on the streets are more at risk of contracting infectious diseases such as the coronavirus, in San Francisco and in other US cities. A 2019 count placed the number of homeless individuals in the city at 8,011.Many don’t have the luxury of taking the recommended precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19, like handwashing and keeping a distance from sick people, as Business Insider’s Holly Secon reported.

Other major cities with coronavirus outbreaks with large homeless populations, like Seattle, are facing similar obstacles, as Secon reports.

Lack of Stategy to Protect Homeless from Coronavirus

In the public interest.

Concerns over lack of strategy to protect rough sleepers from coronavirus

Government urged to provide guidelines as homeless people likely to be more vulnerable

Rough sleeper
Advice is needed on how self-isolation protocols could work for people who live on the streets, charities say. Photograph: Oxford_shot/Alamy

Concerns have been raised that the government has no clear strategy in place to protect homeless people from catching coronavirus.

The homeless charity Crisis, together with the Liberal Democrats, are asking for immediate guidance on how to help rough sleepers who are likely to have pre-existing health conditions that make them vulnerable to the illness.

Advice is also needed on how the self-isolation protocol could work for people who live on the streets and how they can regularly wash their hands, they suggest.

Matthew Downie, director of policy and external affairs for Crisis, said: “People sleeping rough are particularly vulnerable because they are more likely to have a range of existing health conditions and face specific challenges in that they may be unable to regularly wash their hands, nor can they self-isolate if they feel unwell.

“This guidance must set out what measures government is taking to ensure rough sleepers get appropriate health checks, what accommodation will be provided so that people can self-isolate and advice for the public on how best they can support people who are homeless during the coronavirus outbreak.”

The Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has written jointly to the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, and the health secretary, Matt Hancock, to seek clarity and urge the government to act.

Coronavirus could hit homeless camps hard

In the public interest.

Coronavirus could hit Bay Area homeless camps hard, experts warn

Coronavirus could hit Bay Area homeless camps hard, experts warn

Agencies, nonprofits are looking into preventative measures

As concerns about the coronavirus mount, Bay Area experts are worrying about what will happen if the infection strikes the region’s most vulnerable residents: the homeless.

Tent and RV encampments, where residents tend to be packed tightly together in unsanitary conditions, could provide an ideal breeding ground for the new COVID-19 virus sweeping the globe. Typical precautionary measures — such as avoiding close contact with others, self-isolating when you’re sick and washing hands frequently — are all but impossible in encampments with no solid walls or running water.

If they are infected, homeless people face a higher risk of getting very sick from the disease, experts say. They tend to be older, and their immune systems already may be compromised by other chronic illnesses, drug or alcohol use, and the harsh realities of street living.

It could become a major problem throughout California, which not only has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other state, but also holds the nation’s largest population of homeless residents. And thousands of those unhoused people are in the Bay Area.

“I think we’re all worried about it,” said Dr. Margot Kushel, director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

The worry has become more pronounced in recent days. The public learned a Solano County resident appears to be the nation’s first coronavirus patient to contract the illness from an unknown source, amplifying concerns that the virus will start spreading within the state.

“Persons experiencing homelessness are not likely to have any particular risk for COVID-19 related to international travel or exposure to recent travelers,” a spokeswoman wrote in an emailed statement. “However, as the situation evolves, the California Department of Public Health and local health departments in California will engage with groups at risk of exposure and provide information on how people can best protect their health.”

As soon as the CDC on Tuesday warned Americans that it’s not a matter of if the coronavirus will spread within the U.S., but when, the Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos began working on a plan to protect its clients, staff and volunteers, said Executive Director Tom Myers. The agency provides aid to the homeless, low-income families and seniors, and Myers worries about the virus spreading through all three of those populations.

“Quite frankly, we feel like we need to be incredibly proactive on this and look at what is a worst-case scenario,” Myers said.

The staff at Bay Area Community Services, an Oakland-based nonprofit, is waiting for guidance from the public health sector, said Daniel Cooperman, director of housing strategy.

“It’s obviously impacting the whole world at this point,” he said, “so it’s something we’re closely monitoring and worried about.”

The Alameda County Public Health Department is “considering the unique needs of our unhoused populations,” spokeswoman Neetu Balram wrote in an emailed statement.

“From our experience with previous outbreaks, curbing the spread of disease is a community effort and we will need the partnership of our cities and nonprofits,” Balram wrote. “We will share updated guidance with our partners as it becomes available, and will work with them to safeguard all of our communities.”

In Santa Clara County, a health department spokeswoman said the agency is working with local service providers to make sure information about health recommendations and emergency notifications reach the homeless.

For some experts, coronavirus brings to mind the hepatitis A outbreak that tore through California encampments in 2016 and 2017. After igniting in San Diego County, the disease — which can spread through close personal contact or via food and drinks contaminated with small amounts of infected stool — traveled up and down the coast, sickening more than 700 people and killing 21, according to the CDC. Bay Area Community Services quickly mobilized with county health care officials to vaccinate as many East Bay homeless residents as possible. And it worked — the outbreak largely missed the region, Cooperman said.

But there’s one big difference between coronavirus and hepatitis A: There’s no vaccine for coronavirus.

If the virus continues to spread, Kushel predicts agencies will distribute hand sanitizer and install more hand-washing stations in encampments. Hospitals also could lower their admission thresholds, she said, accepting people who have no home to rest, recuperate and self-quarantine in, even if they have minimal symptoms.

“Honestly, I think it’s going to be very challenging,” Kushel said.

Kushel also worries the coronavirus outbreak will be dangerous in other ways for the homeless even if they don’t get sick.

“My fear,” she said, “is that this will be used as another way to further stigmatize an already stigmatized and challenged population.”

Federal judge cites coronavirus threat to homeless

In the public interest.

Federal judge orders emergency hearing over coronavirus threat to L.A.’s homeless people

Doug Smith

LA Times
L.A. County Sheriff Deputy Michael Tadrous talks with Shawn Troncozo, 24, about how to prevent becoming infected with the novel coronavirus during an outreach effort in El Monte last week. <span class="copyright">(Gina Ferazzi/Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)</span>

The federal judge who forced the opening of new homeless shelters in a landmark Orange County case has called for an emergency hearing in Los Angeles this week, citing the risk of people living on the streets during the coronavirus outbreak.

The hearing, set for Thursday, is on a case filed last week alleging that the city and county of L.A. have failed in their duty to protect public health and safety and to provide shelter to people living on the streets.

Citing the havoc that COVID-19, the disease caused by the rapidly spreading virus, could cause in homeless encampments, District Judge David O. Carter called for the emergency status conference.

Carter requested that a host of city and county officials attend, including Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore, Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph M. Terrazas, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, Los Angeles Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles Public Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority interim executive director Heidi Marston.


The Los Angeles case was filed on behalf of a group named the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights which, according to its website, was formed last summer by downtown residents and property owners to press for solutions to what they say are unsafe and inhumane conditions in spreading homeless encampments.

Led by longtime Central City East Association general counsel Don Steier, the group recruited members from around L.A. including nonprofits and service providers according to its website, and raised funds for legal fees and research into the issue. The group says it supports a legally enforceable right to shelter and provision of services for every person on the streets.

Concluding that ideological battles and legal challenges have been responsible for preventing progress, the L.A. Alliance sued on March 10.

That was just as cases of the novel coronavirus were beginning to spread in California. As of Tuesday, there were nearly 150 cases confirmed in L.A. County and many more in the Bay Area.