There are many ways that the coronavirus is increasing risk for homelessness. According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, poor health is a risk factor for homelessness. In addition, the National Low Income Housing Coalition has noted that decreased income and rising medical bills can make it more difficult for people to pay for housing, which can then lead to homelessness.
People may also need to take time off because they are sick or because a family member is sick, leading to an increased risk of losing their job. An article by CNN predicted that homelessness could rise by 45 percent by the end of the year due to the virus.
People of color have both disproportionately higher rates of homelessness and rates of COVID-19 infection than their White counterparts. The New York Times has reported that Black and Latinx people in the U.S. are three times as likely to be infected, and nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than their White counterparts.
Existing health inequities will likely be heightened by the pandemic. Distrust of medical establishments can also create health disparities. Immigrant families may be afraid to seek health care, and people of color are more likely to be uninsured, making medical care difficult.
White families have 10 times more wealth than Black families. According to the National Homelessness Law Center, people of color tend to have higher rental and cost-burden rates, and are more likely to be in low-paying jobs that are affected by the pandemic. Due to systemic inequalities in access to education, they are more likely to be frontline workers with fewer opportunities to work from home. Black and Latinx people are less likely to have paid sick time or family time, often leading to difficult decisions between one’s health and one’s job.