“Shelter in place” is impossible if there’s no guaranteed housing for thousands

Pivotal measures such as self-distancing and social-isolation have been mandated across the United States in an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous states have implemented “stay-at-home” orders, but what if individuals do not have homes to go to?

According to a 2018 report by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, on a single night, almost 553,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. In North Carolina, over 9,314 people are experiencing homelessness on any given day.

While the coronavirus continues to reveal the weaknesses and overwhelming inequities of our healthcare system, economy and the government — lack of support for housing and services for the homelessness is yet another to be added to the long list.

With homeless shelters across the state feeling the pressure as thousands seek shelter during the growing public health crisis, one coalition is stepping up to ensure North Carolina guarantees that everyone has housing.

The Housing Justice Coalition has launched a public campaign to raise awareness of the immediate needs of those without a home. The coalition is urging lawmakers to “ensure every resident of North Carolina is able to achieve their best possible health outcome during this crisis”, as stated on their online petition.

With more than 1,500 signatures signed, housing advocates and people of NC are demanding a call to action with seven policy recommendations to secure safe housing for individuals across the state.

Their policy recommendations are as follows:

At this critical moment in history, we need our leaders to implement an aggressive health equity policy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure every resident of North Carolina is able to achieve their best possible health outcome during this crisis.

We Need Guaranteed Housing During COVID-19 Pandemic: A Call to Action with Policy Recommendations from Housing Advocates Statewide in NC

  1. Complete and Unconditional Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures
  2. Guaranteed Housing for All People Residing in NC During the Outbreak
  3. Stop Criminalizing Houselessness and Provide Safe Alternatives to Jails and Correctional Facilities
  4. Direct and Immediate Economic Relief for the Homeless, Housing Unstable, Unemployed and Working Poor to Prevent a Rise in Homelessness During or After the Pandemic
  5. Public WiFi Access Made Available for the Duration of the Pandemic Crisis
  6. Guarantee Access to Nutrition, Health Care and Any Public Benefits
  7. Extend the Census Through 2021. Ensure that the Right to Vote and Access to the Ballot is Not Denied to Any Resident

If you would like to add your name to the petition, go to: https://www.change.org/p/roy-cooper-we-need-guaranteed-housing-in-nc-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

Alanna Joyner

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