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LETTER: Homelessness crisis is about to get more dire

Erica Caldwell
Fawn Township
Hundreds of donated scarves, hats, jackets, blankets and more are hung around the band shell at Farquhar Park for the homeless and less fortunate, Sunday, November 17, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Will Bunch is absolutely right to address homelessness in the essay “America's real hoax.” Homelessness is a crisis that's largely been ignored for years. If changes aren't made, it will soon explode.

The CDC eviction moratorium is a step in the right direction but isn't enough. Even if tenants qualify, the protection ends Jan. 1. Without any kind of rental assistance to repay rents, how many people will be forced onto the streets? How many families?

The rise in homeless rates between January 2020 and next January will likely be devastating. Homelessness was already rising before COVID-19 hit. Between January 2019 and January 2020, York's homeless population rose by 12.5% and the number of people unsheltered doubled after years of relatively stable rates. Now, shelters are expecting space to be cut in half or worse because of COVID requirements.

More:York City youth home to offer stability for growing homeless population

More:VIDEO: Miss Bobbi's Place homeless shelter will work to keep families together

We urgently need to increase shelter space, but shelters don't help unhoused people in the long-term. And they do little to diminish the medical risks of homelessness: pneumonia, frostbite, tuberculosis, bronchitis, injury from falls and being hit by cars, let alone risks of COVID-19.

We need a long-term strategy to eradicate homelessness. If countries like Finland can reduce homelessness, there is no excuse why the richest country in the world can't do the same. This is why I will join Put People First! PA at 3 p.m. Oct. 3 for the Medicaid March at 250 College Ave. in Lancaster to demand housing and health care as human rights for all.