As part of our ongoing conversation on homelessness, we asked members of the Family Promise network and individuals working to serve families experiencing homelessness to share their personal thoughts and reflections on Family Promise and the issue of family homelessness. These writers are true thought leaders, using their skills and expertise to develop and implement creative solutions that are changing the lives of parents and children in their communities. This post is from T.J. Putnam, Executive Director of Family Promise of the Mid-Willamette Valley.
This article was originally published in the Statesman Journal. View the original here.
With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the recent declaration that we are now entering a national state of emergency, these are uncertain times for all of us.
However, for families and individuals experiencing homelessness or for those on the threshold of homelessness, the possibility of losing their emergency shelter, home or job compounds this uncertainty.
The effects of coronavirus are far-reaching and go beyond public health. This outbreak will undoubtedly destabilize the housing situation of countless families in our community unless we take proactive steps to mitigate this now.
The impact this outbreak will have on vulnerable families is profound. Hourly workers have already seen a significant reduction in their paychecks and there is a very real possibility we will begin to see layoffs.
With schools across the state closed, working parents also will struggle with the issue of childcare. Many parents will be forced to make the decision between paying for childcare or taking extended unpaid leave from work. The latest figures from Salem-Keizer Public Schools show that roughly 1,150 students are experiencing homelessness, meaning these closures will have a devastating effect on their way of life.
We understand that securing public health is of the highest importance, however, the economic fallout of this crisis will disproportionately impact the families we serve.