THE HIDDEN PANDEMIC
The longer the pandemic goes on, the deeper are the wounds it leaves. In spring of 2020—weeks into the closest thing to a shutdown the US has experienced—the effects of the Coronavirus already began to surface. Health concerns seemed (and still do) like the most detrimental consequence of the virus. However, with the one-year mark of living with masks and social distancing approaching, results of the pandemic have trickled down to every aspect of life as we know it, leaving no one scarless.
Some groups of people cannot even worry about the health risk associated with COVID-19, as the roof over their heads and the food on their plates are being threatened. A lesser talked-about consequence of the pandemic is how it is changing the homeless population. Everyone’s sense of security has been shaky for a long time, but what if you never had any in the first place?
In past years, the homeless census has been required by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development in all cities across the U.S. to guide actions rooted in combating the homeless epidemic. This year, though, the census has been made optional due to the pandemic, and most cities decided to cancel it out of extreme caution. Boston is forging forward, as the importance of gaining safety for everyone in the Beantown population—especially the homeless—remains vital to the city’s identity.
The Boston homeless census for 2020 has to take into account proper safety measures, like a limited number of volunteers, in spite of the pandemic. It has also shifted the focus of the census. Volunteers will ask homeless people about how the pandemic has affected their life and ability to find secure housing, food, etc. in the Boston area.
Officials have always aimed to improve the lives of the homeless population, but the task is important and serious now more than ever. A homeless person’s quality of life is crucial at an individual level and can have a ripple effect on every citizen in Boston. COVID-19 is more likely to spread if large portions of the population, like the homeless, cannot carry out the proper safety measures of mask-wearing and social isolation. Most students at Boston University are probably able to buy groceries in bulk, attend school from their laptops, and afford masks. The same cannot be said for anyone living homeless.
In conclusion, the consequences of the pandemic will continue to build and won’t end for years to come. More and more effects will come to light, and Boston is a city to have faith in. You can still do your part. Homelessness is such a direct cause to contribute to, whether it is time and/or money. Contact your closest shelter to see how to get involved, bring food to drop-off points, like the small shed located outside of Mei Mei Restaurant on Buswell Street in South Campus. Every BU student has the privilege of education that helps you and your role in your community.