In the last three months, as the coronavirus has blazed its way across the globe, we’ve seen some of the best in humanity. As we retreat to our homes, we’re sacrificing every aspect of our so-called “normal” lives in an effort to try to flatten the curve. Even those who are at low risk of contracting the virus or of suffering poor outcomes are upending the ways they work, learn, and socialize to avoid exposing the most vulnerable. The phrase, “We are all in this together,” has become a worldwide mantra.
From the healthcare providers to the first responders and the essential workers, millions of people are practicing what they preach. They are putting themselves at risk every day to protect both the sick and the well and to serve the most vulnerable, but there is still so much that needs to be done. For all who have been sheltered and well-served, there are countless others who are suffering, if not from the immediate threat of the virus, then from its devastating side effects.
Impact on the Homeless
Government stay-at-home mandates are pretty hard to comply with when you have no home in the first place. As terrifying as housing insecurity is, it becomes a full-scale nightmare when you’re facing life on the streets amid a pandemic.
Homeless shelters are, by definition, not spaces where social distancing can easily be maintained. The street itself offers virtually no protection against the virus. For many, a shelter may be the only option. Shelters, however, can be especially inhospitable places for certain groups, such as trans-persons and others in the LGBTQ community, who may not only be turned away from single-sex shelters but who may face discrimination and even violence once admitted.
LGBTQ individuals may choose to risk the streets rather than chance a shelter. That could be a choice that costs them their lives. Studies show that this community is not only less likely to have access to consistent, quality healthcare, but is also at greater risk for immuno-compromising conditions including hepatitis and HIV/AIDs.
There are, however, resources available to help members of the LGBTQ community who are facing homelessness during this crisis. Reaching out to service organizations devoted to serving the community can be an essential first step in connecting to safe housing and financial assistance programs. The National Center for Transgender Equality, for instance, has programs specifically geared to helping trans persons protect against COVID-19.
The Working Poor
The pandemic has shed a light like never before on the stark class divisions that continue to plague our country. By now, it has become common knowledge that the virus is disproportionately affecting working-class and minority communities. By and large, these are the populations whose jobs simply can’t be transitioned to telework. These are the populations that tend to be least able to wait out the pandemic at home. A missed paycheck can mean not being able to pay the mortgage, put food on the table, or keep the lights on.
For many, missing work is not a choice. As state and federal governments impose and extend lockdown orders, “non-essential” businesses are shuttering their doors and many may never reopen. Fortunately, assistance is available at the federal, state, and even the local levels. Mortgage assistance and forbearance programs are available for many who have been affected by the pandemic.
What Is To Be Done?
As daunting as the challenge may be and as overwhelming as the numbers of those in need may seem, there are things that can be done to help yourself and others.
Prioritize Your Health
If you belong to a high-risk group, the first step is to make a plan to protect your health. After all, if you get sick, everything else is going to be moot.
If your housing is insecure, if you are immunocompromised, or if your work does not enable you to shelter at home, then it’s imperative to start taking proactive steps to keep yourself well. Make sure that you are current on your vaccinations and ensure you have at least a two weeks’ supply of your required medications in the event of a shortage.
Seek Financial Help
If you are one of the more than 36 million Americans suddenly without a job due to the coronavirus, there is financial help available. Debt relief and forgiveness programs can provide a temporary reprieve from student loan, credit card, and even mortgage payments.
In addition, various emergency financial assistance programs are available in most communities. Churches and local non-profits typically offer small loans and grants to help with food, utilities, and other essential expenses.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
Let’s face it: the pandemic has forced us all outside our comfort zones, and there are really only two options when it comes to living this new “abnormal.” We can either resist the change, or we can go with it. We can learn to see these changes in our lives not as losses, but as an opportunity to create a new and even better life.
For many of us, that new life is probably going to include a new job, and with a surging unemployment rate, you’re going to face competition like you’ve never faced before.
That’s not a reason to despair, though. It’s a reason to prepare. When you start looking for your next job, you need to start thinking like a recruiter. Understanding behavioral interviewing techniques will help you figure out what your interviewer is really asking and looking for in each question. Once you’ve learned to read the cues in a behavioral interview, you’ll know how to show your recruiter that you’re the best candidate for the job, and that can be your first and most important step from crisis to dream career!
The manta that we are all in this together sounds great on television and social media, but many populations continue to struggle to find the protection and support they need in this troubled time. Members of the LGBTQ community, the working poor, and the homeless face particular risk. Only when all vulnerable populations have the opportunity to be safe and protected against this virus will we be able to say that we truly are all in this together.
Guest Author Bio
Magnolia Potter is a muggle from the Pacific Northwest who writes from time to time and covers a variety of topics. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book.
Blog / Website: Magnolia Potter