How Coronavirus Is Affecting The Homeless (Randyjw; March 18 and March 19 [updated], 2020)
We hear of instances during this coVid-19 coronavirus epidemic in which those who have been in possible contamination with an infected/infectious individual are requested to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. The cases of infection have increased substantially, and many countries have placed stay-at-home measures on their populations, closed their borders, and other arising instances. Public locations are being closed, such as schools, religious institutions, and others.
But, what if you have no home to shelter in? Here, where I live (undisclosed, for privacy), and across the nation, shelters are only temporary reprieves for the homeless; they are not a permanent solution. Stays are limited in duration, and the demand for shelter is always insufficient to meet the actual needs. During the daytime, on a regular basis, the homeless can only go to public locations, such as parks and libraries, or face the likely consequences of encountering a law-enforcement officer who will then ticket or jail the individual for loitering, lodging, trespass, or other such law designed to make it practically “illegal” to be a poor homeless person. The shelters, I heard from someone who has been lately trying to get into them, have stopped their “overnights,” which is a few-day stay which requires a pre-referral (running around after a van which goes to numerous cities and standing in long lines to see if there’s a bed available, and often, there is not… You can’t just “walk-in” to a shelter whenever you please…); they are also stopping their daytime harbor (if they ever had one, in the first place). The volunteers which help out at the shelters are no longer being taken, and staff is very short-handed. Today, I went to the other city I briefly stayed at; they handed out meals (no dining in) in styrofoam containers. They did a great job, even though some people complained.
In fact, it is getting downright scary during these times. I’m actually surprised that rioting hasn’t yet broken out. The tension is becoming almost unbearable, as homeless people are now congregating closer to resources, having a semi-martial law imposed (truly) with the closure of locations where the homeless did (but officially shouldn’t) sleep, and “homeless real estate” (i.e., a “spot” to sleep in, outdoors) becoming very scarce. Often, homeless individuals will watch other homeless people — their movements, locations, etc. — so that they can come and impose themselves on another’s “turf.” I’ve already had this happen; I was once severely beaten up due to this, with my head being bashed against a brick wall four times. The martial closure also takes away a few more options for the homeless: bathrooms and like facilities, etc. They are now closing down the libraries, so you will not be hearing from me until further notice from the library [except for today, March 19]. This is another location for a bathroom for me, as well as a place to stay indoors, out of the elements, and away from the cops and sheriffs, and keep me out of trouble. No longer. Where are we to go?
Also, the extraneous people, who help to provide food for the homeless, such as religious institutions, individuals who operate non-profits, etc., have stopped their feedings. I had tried another city out and had found the resources for food better there, but I was banned from their library for my excess bags (although, not until I started bothering them to loosen their computer cords, so that I could bring the monitor close to me, in order to compensate for my degenerative myopia…) and they tore down my sleeping spot, so I moved back to where I originally was. The food resources are not very good here; but, even those extraneous ones, they have stopped. There is still one soup kitchen, but I have not normally been going there as it is an arduous effort for me to get there. The place is very small and is always closely packed, with people lining out the entryway.
Last night, I was very frightened, and felt that two men, perhaps in tandem, but not near each other, were “casing me out.” This is a very dangerous situation for a female, and one that prefers to be alone, for many reasons (not all listed). For one, I prefer it that way. Socializing is okay, to a certain extent, but at nighttime, I want to be with my thoughts and silence and recoup. Many homeless women out here prefer to have a male around for the feeling of so-called “protection” that they might “infer” upon them; but, all I hear are horrible stories and drama which ensues in these circumstances, and this is just not my cup of tea. I feel that if anyone is creeping up on me at nighttime, I want to be prepared, if at all possible, and not have to determine: is this “friend” or “foe” when I only have a few reactionary seconds, if that, if awake, to make some kind of reaction. I have been around other people, and it’s just not a good fit for me. Many other problems occured because of that, so I try to prevent it as best as possible. Last night, one guy came exceedingly close to me in a wide parking lot, which was totally unnecessary. He then moved to a median within the parking lot toward another building, but then stayed in this small median and loitered there, not heading anywhere. I thought he was going to try to steal my stuff. As I walked toward the other end of the parking lot, another guy was walking nearby. He pretended like he was going to continue on the path out of the parking lot, and I waited and watched to see if he was, but he then did not and stopped. When he noticed I was watching him, he then moved to the path, but didn’t proceed on it and out of sight. I was waiting at a bus stop near the path, but then moved forward to where I knew there would be a place which had video cameras. He then moved a few feet back towards the parking lot and the line of sight of where the other man in the median was loitering, and he made gestures which seemed to me like they were intended for that other man. I was very nervous. Then, I noticed, which I hadn’t before, and don’t know whether this person had been there or had come along in the interim, another man across the street, who did not get on the bus which eventually pulled up for him at that bus stop. I was so nervous, I told the bus driver my misgivings and what had happened and described the individuals. When I got to my spot, and I hope no-one was noticing me, I laid down, and was anxious and cried awhile, then read some of my book I’m presently reading (The Monuments Men; I’ve read it before, but prior to learning about stuff I’m kindof looking into now), and eventually was tired and shut my eyes — I really don’t sleep too much or too well out there; I never feel like I’ve actually gotten any sleep, and stay awake most of the night.
The tensions are really bad out here at ground level. Perhaps you are somewhat insulated from what’s happening “out on the street;” and I hope that you are. But, it gives me, I think, a sometimes truer indicator of how people are feeling, reacting, etc. — at least at this level. I hope the calm holds.
[Update – March 19, 2020]:
The libraries will be closing. I heard that the parks, also, will soon be closing. These are the only locations where a homeless person can be. So, what — We are now “illegal citizens” within our own country? Worse off than even “illegal immigrants?”
Also, the other day, because they had stopped extraneous feedings, I had not had dinner, nor anything to eat in the morning of the following day. I had gone to the park to try to meet up with the individual who helps distribute food to homeless people, but was told that she would not be coming until further notice. Si, I had to go elsewhere; I went to a supermarket, and there was hardly anything a homeless person could purchase left on the shelves, because everybody is panicking and stocking up on food items and leaving nothing for us to be able to purchase with food stamps. I was hoping to have some bologna; there were only a few Hebrew National salamis available (and those are usually much higher-priced than cheaper bologna — and, yes, I believe it is a Heavenly reminder sent to me, but the problem is that I am just having too much difficulty in trying to survive and am not really keeping Kosher at this time (probably reaping the consequences for this decision, as well…). In any case, I bought the salami, some Martin’s potato bread, free mustard packets, and a pack of cheese (yes, I know… the meat-dairy admix is a big non-no)… It wound up costing me almost $21.00 USD, which is about three-1/2 times my daily allotted expenses on EBT… I’ll probably be suffering further… So, now… I guess all of us homeless people will soon be accruing multiple tickets (courts are closed now, but…) or stays in overcrowded jails (never been to one; don’t really want to go), but they are making being a poor, homeless person a crime by leaving us no alternative arrangements, with shelters maxed-out, no day options, no “overnights” and basically nothing else. No-one cares. There are not even portable toilets being set up, and if you want to consider the potential fallout from that situation, I would say that the cities are not being considerate…