Can coronavirus be defeated without addressing homelessness?

published on July 9, 2020

I am for me okay you're all watching thestream on today's show come with 19pandemic and homelessness in America oneof the richest countries in the worldnow I am sure that wherever you'rewatching in the world you have your ownstories and your own experiences about

Homelessness and Kovach 19 you know whatto do if you're on YouTube jump into thechat and YouTube can be part of theconversation I'm going to say hello tothis amazing panel and they're going tointroduce themselves to you dr kachelle

Great to have you tell everybody who youare nice to be heremy name is Margot crucial and I'm aphysician and researcher at Universityof California San Francisco where I havedevoted my career to trying to recognize

That housing is the best medicine and Iat UCSF directly UCSF Center forvulnerable populations my great to haveyou mark with an H we have two months aday doubly lucky mark with an H telleverybody who you are what the H stands

For I'm mark Horvath and I'm the founderof invisible people 25 years ago I livedhomeless on the streets of Los Angelesand now I run a nonprofit calledinvisible people where we focus oneducation journalism and advocacy to

Help end homelessness you're gonna seesome of that incredible work today oh Iforgot the Dare and this is my last covid Harry we feel so lucky thank you forsaving the long hand for us okay thisshow is gonna be trouble

We also have mark with Adi mark of hisdeeds how everybody what the D standsfor welcome to the street thanks forhaving me my name is Mark Jones I am apsychiatric anthropologist and I'vespent the last 10 years really focused

On the intersection of policy and antiracism trying to get the United Statesto finally not be racist so I sleep realwell great great to have you everybodyall right let me start with somethingthat I

Remember seeing oh three months ago sothis is a headline here in The Guardiannewspaper so many newspapers picked itup Las Vegas parking lot turned intohomeless shelter with social distancingmarkers you can see that this is an old

Headline but this was the this was theimage that truly truly shocked me lookat this is this the way to treat peopleduring a global pandemic I was stunnedMargot what are you seeing is was this asolution for social distancing it's

Crazy I mean I think it's a reallydamning statement of where the UnitedStates is with homelessness right nowthe covered pandemic hasn't changedanything but it has really shown us andexploited the fault lines in our

Community the way that racism shows upin everything that we do you know kovathas really been a crisis upon a crisisit created this massive health crisisthat that place people who are homelessat extremely high risk because they're

Living in crowded places they don't haveaccess to to hygiene we've seen terribleoutbreaks in shelters and I think thatthat non-response response of placingpeople outside and painting a lion sixfeet apart

Just shows how far we have to go as somany people have suffered from thispandemic multi I see you noddingarticulator not go ahead I mean I likeMargaret it's embarrassing right like weas a nation should be embarrassed by how

We have historically interacted withropes experiencing homelessness thisshould be frankly the final nail in thecoffin with regard to seeing veryclearly that what we do is isunconscionable and to Marvis point about

Racism right I think that like it'sreally important to note that themajority of people experiencinghomelessness in this nation are blackand brown folks and that frankly thereason why we have been able to get away

With the treatment that we have isbecause of that right like it is that itis the fusion of America's classism andracism that simultaneously allows us tosay to peopleyou don't exist and what you need

Doesn't matterlet's talk practicalities mark hu had aproject called invisible people youspend a lot of time with people on thestreets you talk to themthey tell me your story what happened to

You very direct I first want to addressthe Las Vegas photo because that when itthat article and those photos came outit was shocking and there was a lot ofuproar about it and there should be butthat's how Las Vegas is treated

Homelessness far before covin 19 thecity uses what a courtyard model wherepeople are sleeping on a sidewalk in acourtyard before kovat 19 came about soyeah everybody's screaming about thisbut we've been treating homelessness

Like that for decades yeah that'sexactly right like we've always beenthis bad right like we've never we'venever actually had a actual humanitariandignity centered approach tohomelessness and so I think that what

You know is is remarkable is how littlehas changed to Mark's point right likewe we see these sort of you know sort ofquote-unquote before and after but it'sit's just the same before can I just goback I mean I never said I didn't

Speaking mother you you kind speakingI'm just going to show this photographagain because each of one of thosebundles there's a person there these arepeople mother go ahead go aheadhello hello hi hi Margo hello mark hello

Market was going so well and then we hada gremlin apologies about them so thewhole thing crashed I'm doing this formeyeah i refreshed I would fresh mybrowser did we all refresh our browsers

Yeah yeah yeah yeah all right very goodyou know but yeah yeah all right okayeverybody we're just gonna pick up uh sowas it just mehe wasn't you see Rose all of us Ialways wonder that it's like am I just

Frozen in his Marga I don't knock him upI think I don't care they can carry onwith the show without me because I justthink they didn't need me all right soso just checking in with when we canstart again everybody one one second and

We're just gonna pick up because it wasthat image again I wanted to go back toalrightall right and I saw Nancy Manniyes standing by everybody okay standingby everybody so just to refresh our

Memories we were looking at this imagefrom The Guardian mark revisited it Iwanted to pull it back up again becauseas you were speaking it reminded me thatevery single one of those bundles werehuman beings so here we go

Right I mean I think as as Mark and Markwe're saying hold tight hold tightmotherlet me let us not firstly up for youokay okay okay great guess as you'respeaking I just want to pull back up

This picture because as you're speakingit becomes so clear that every singleone of those bundles these are humanbeings these are people Marga what didyou want to say go ahead you know Ithink as Mark and Mark were saying that

You know the the pandemic really hasn'thas just amplified the problems thatwe've had with homelessness it hasn'tactually changed things that's increaseda danger dramatically but the underlyingproblems have been there for a long time

I think a lot of people with theenormous racial disparities that we'reseeing in who lives and who dies withkovat have suddenly become awakened towhat we've always known and has alwaysbeen true in this country

I mean maybe what's different here isthe painted lines but unfortunately theoverall reality isn't that differentfrom what we've lived with in the UnitedStates for far too long it'sextraordinary that this is some news to

Some people who live in communitieswhere there are homeless people but theyto your point mark h invisible people iwant to show a page from your website ofinvisible people the stories of homelesspeople from around the world not just

From the US and you spoke to brink nottoo long ago brent is a law clerk and heis living on the streets right now he islooking for work right now and explainto you how keen he was not to behomeless and also the impact of covert

19 let's have a listen to Brent I willreally like a place to lock up my stufftake a shower and just a little piece ofthe world the clothes the clothesthe door on so that people can't gothrough your stuff yet and coalbed you

Were telling me earlierthe Kovan coronavirus it closed all thebathrooms yeah I said no place to yesit's hard to go to the bathroom out hereas it is but everybody has now shut thebathrooms down and all the fast fast

Food restaurants is really where you goin a supermarket or a service stationand they're all they're always alwaysclosed even before kovat they werealways either under repair or notworking or whatever it's very difficult

To go to the restroom you I almost haveto go onto a construction site and useit out on one of those porta-pottiesMacha it's real practical difficultiesright there I remember about a month ortwo months ago we had a toilet paper

Shortageso now imagined you're homeless and youcan't get toilet paper nor can you getaccess to a bathroom and where is a realcrisis is water and hygiene I mean withCova do you have to wash your hands but

Also you you know homeless people usedrinking water that they get from publicbathrooms and you need water to live Ithink there's something interesting alsoabout Brent story that in Los Angeles acity you know right now the CDC has come

Out with guidelines that are againsthomelessness so in Los Angeles advocatesand thank God fer that they were able topush this have really slowed down thesweepsso now Brett in that story if you watch

The whole video Brent can stay in oneplace they don't have to move every daythey don't have the threat of policeevery day but to be perfectly clear LosAngeles Denver in many cities eventhough it's against CDC guidelines are

Still sweeping homeless camps this isyou know I think whyfolks in the housing and homelessnesssector actually do have to have aposition on policing and policeinteractions right again if we own the

Fact that the majority of folksexperiencing homelessness in the usare folks of color like policeinteractions are not a a neutral thingright like the the police violence andthe brutality that has been documented

In the demonstrations has been you knowsort of really lifted to the fore of theconversation last couple weeks in stuffthat we have seen in folks experiencinghomelessness undergo four years therewere tons of headlines right of police

Interacting approps experiencinghomelessness and the brutality thatcomes out of that and so I think thatlike we actually again have to have tobe really clear that racism is at thecore of this and right like I just I

Want to say really really candidlyclearly the police budgets right thatcomprise like 30 to 50 percent ofmunicipal budgets that's the money thatcould house people and I'm sick ofhaving conversations with mayor's my own

Mayor right mayor get there in ColumbusI'm sick of these these conversationslike we don't have the money to providethe thing we don't have the money to dothe right thing when 50 percent of yourbudget I mean we have six helicopters in

Columbus Ohio Columbus Ohio why do weneed to Excel Akaka in Los Angeles lastyear thirty million dollars was spent onhomeless sweeps forty sleeps a day nowthey're still I get an email every dayfrom Los Angeles advocates trying to

Predict and let other advocates andpeople that care know about this week'ssweeps are still happened thirty milliondollars a year they're building bridgeshelters at two million dollars thosesweeps if you took the budget away from

Sweepsyou could build 15 shelters at the moneythat they're spending it makes no senseto me but that's the response tohomelessness and you want to grow yesconversation happening on YouTube I want

To share with you sirAmit Kumar 1946 and it says we can'tdepend on the governmentfor all of this we should help homelessat an individual level Margo I mean lookI think that that speaking for the

United States to say the governmenthasn't had a role in this on sort of thedispossession for black and brown peopleof their ability to buy housing sort ofbuy into that quote-unquote AmericanDream has been a major contributor to

And by the way that was sanctioned bythe government for many years majorcontributor to their enormous wealthgaps that we see and that is an enormouscause of homelessness the lack of thelack of affordable housing affordable

Housing doesn't just support itselfaffordable housing needs to be supportedby the government if we if we get youknow come to things and think thatmagically the market is going to fixthis you wind up seeing what we see in

The United States the numbers don'tpencil out we have a minimum wage thathasn't kept up with the cost of livingwe have had a dramatic disinvestment inin housing supports in most parts of theworld housing is something that is

Supported by governments and we don'treally have that to the extent that weneed that so I guess I would counterthat that the market has failed herethat you know the living wage in the BayArea where I live right now is that what

We have a housing wage or people couldactually afford a very modest housingwould be 40 to 50 dollars an hour we'refighting like heck to get the minimumwage up to $15 an hour something has togive and and that I think I'm afraid to

Say is gonna need to involve federalinvestment or investment in housinginvestment in increase in our minimumwage that we paid people the job thatthey do and the recognition that somepeople will always ant have always

Needed support you know it's just thatwe have different you know we just arein a country where people take thisindividualized view and don't actuallybelieve they sort of have this sensethat everything is everyone's individual

Fault when it just really isn't yes Iwant to have a think about this if I maybecause we're we aretalking about an issue that has been anissue in the United States for a verylong time also an issue around the world

For a very long time I am wondering ifkovat 19 could change that I want tohave a look at this this is Ana Liffeyon Twitter Dublin has outperformed evenbest scenarios for Kovac 19 mortalityamong homeless and drug-using

Populations and a lily is a group thatlooks after people who use drugs andhelps them to get out of their drug useToni Duffin says 63 homeless people werediagnosed with Kovac 19 and there wasone death a fraction of what was

Predicted in Dublin we saw that tweetand we were like tell me we need to talkto you this is what he told us a littlebit earlier what we did in Dublin whatwe had in Dublin was decisive leadershipfrom the state partnership approach from

NGOs all working together we hadincreased housing provision and improvedaccess to drugs like methadonebenzodiazepine and in the lock zone wealso had many other supports in place socombined all this joint-working meant

That we were able to reduce the spreadof code 19 and to reduce trouble 8 hullok this is impressive model you go firstwell I mean I think in some ways govern19 has shown that it this is not rocketscience right that that in some parts of

The it's not that hard I think that whatweokay so we've lost Margo just from wherewe'll reconnect with her just froze fora penny Margo you froze for a minute goahead pick up that I think what we've

Seen is that this is doable right thisis not rocket science there are in factsome parts of the country I think of thestate of Connecticut that very quicklymoved a large proportion of the peopleexperiencing homelessness into hotels

Which had suddenly become abandonedbecause of the loss of the tourismindustry and then move many of thosefolks into permanent housing we see inCalifornia not as many but a largenumber of people being moved into hotels

And we are doing things like I'm showingthat you can move people into housingthis idea that people don't want to behoused has never been true I do fearthough that we're facing an oncomingtrain we have been successful in moving

Some people into hotels we need to getthem into permanent housing but but youknow I just read this morning in theWashington Post said an estimated 44% ofLatin ex folks it renters in the countryand 41% of black renters in the country

Are at high risk of eviction and if wedon't act quickly all of our efforts tomove people out of homelessness into ahousing are gonna be overwhelmed by allof the new people who are gonna fallinto homelessness because of the

Economic collapse but this is not rocketscience we know how to keep people safewe've always known how to house peoplewe just need to do it yeah the idea markH about moving people into hotels thatwas a promise that the mayor of LA made

And it reminds me of a story that's onyou invisible people's site this isDevon here on the visible people sitecan you just just set it up because I'mgoing to use a little clip from Devon toexplain what he did he took them out at

His word so what happened in LA whatdidn't they promised homeless people andthen we go to Devon Oh ed Devine I meanthis is one of the greatest examples ofguerrilla advocacy he is a homeless manliving in a park in Los Angeles and they

Created an entourage where he lookedlike a celebrity influencer so there wassomebody Jed who is poising at point youknow playing the part of this managerand a girlfriendthey went with their entourage into the

Ritz-carlton and they said we want torent out this block of rooms but I'mgonna leave a little bit for Devon totell the story say Ms miss itwe've got hotel rooms we were going togive hotel rooms our empty hotel rooms

To homeless people and Devon took him upon his word and here is Mark H talkingto Devon about what he did let's have alook I went in and said I'm a famousmusician and I'm in town for colvettbenefit concert Jed did that and I had a

Bodyguard I have a girlfriend with me Ihad a stylist we had a group and youknow and we had a good woman guard inthe door that asian woman the guard inthe police and uh as I get in the room Ihave my shades on as this said actually

I'm not homeless okay I'm actually Ohafter I'm not home as well actually I'mnot famous I'm homeless and I live inEcho Park and I'm not leaving this hotel- mayor Garcetti common business everyroom this hotel for homeless people with

During a state of emergencyyeah and I want to and I'm glad youtransition this because one thing Kovichshowed that we can take action as agovernment and have impactprior to go kovat there was not a lot of

Interns in C all of a sudden you knowgovernor Newsomis buying hotels to house people that'samazing so we can't we can't they shouldhave done it before but we have to keepgoing and if you look at vaq 'it's in LA

Have something if you go to project roomkey tracker they list daily and in 33days there has been no change meaningright now there's 3601 rooms operationalthere's 50,000 homeless people they'veonly house put used four thousand of

Them and it's road blocked and Iunderstand there's jail by eating peoplewater WowI know you would have to ask the cityyou would have to the city in the countyhas to push this to make it happen and

We know they can because this actuallystarted but let's grow it let's get itso all the rooms are used and then thepeople are placed in the housing i wantto dip back it should mark d and i wantyou to take this one this is 4c taken on

A victim miriam if people andgovernments ignore homelessness duringthe best of times ii think they dosomething about it during a pandemic isdelusional martine you run with this onedelusional so that's that's fine with me

I mean look I think that like the bottomline is that we particularly in thiscountry in the US but I think franklyglobally are at a crossroads with regardto what is our focus and to bring itback to what we talked about a little

Bit earlier right like the US hasoperated for a long time out of thisindividualistic and particulars technotion right that like you know it'sjust I gotta do it for me and everyonehas to do it for themselves but that's

Not the only way to live and I thinkthat one of the things that I thinkwe're starting to see is that to reportback to point right like in this countryin this moment we have to begin to pivottoward the housing justice agenda and

Then the agenda that says like everyonegets how full stop and I think thatactually means right that we are doingmore than ending homelessness when wesay that we are about housing justiceagenda because Margo's point right like

We would then be talking about a livablewage you're talking about like nothaving the anxiety that month-to-monthanxiety of like I can't afford thisright and if one thing goes wrongthat's it for me and like we as a as a

As a society I think globally have tobegin to say it's unacceptable tocontinue to architect policy in a waythat puts by some estimates sixtypercent right of the population in astate of precarity almost every month

That's that's that that actually is whatwe're talking about right we're notnecessarily talking about like oh wehave to end homelessness we're talkingabout we have to end economic precarityfor people who

Have to live with that anxiety and thatactually encompasses everybody guessesone more person I want to add theirvoice to this conversation that's PeggyBaileyPeggy Bailey is the vice president for

Housing policy for the Center on Budgetand Policy Prioritiesthis is what she told us earlier wellthey're acting at the federal state orlocal level policymakers have toprioritize people with the fewest

Resources because whether they'redirectly impacted by the virus or notthis is the group that will feel theeffects of the health and economiccrisis for the longest and we know thatfor people with low incomes housing is

Their biggest bill so targeting rentalthem for rental assistance whethermedium short or longer term assistancethrough a housing voucher makes pertmakes all the sense in the worldit will help stabilize these families

And ensure that they don't fall intohomelessness or other bad outcomes thissounds like good advice for any time notjust covert 19 do you know a globalpandemic mother dad I mean absolutely inthe United States right now it's very

Hard to qualify for housing assistancebut even amongst those who meet thatdifficult sort of barrier only one infour households who qualify get it it'slike a lottery system that you can'teven get entered into the lottery and

Actually the true cost of fully fundingthose vouchers is not extra nominal Ithink it's estimated to be about 41billion dollars a year to fully fundthose vouchers we spend nearly that onhomeless shelters and frankly if you go

Up and down the west coast most peopleexperiencing homelessness can't even geta bed in a shelter this is doable but wejust haven't had the policy energyaround it we know that if you givepeople housing vouchers they are no

Longer homeless and yes we would need towork on the housing production side andsome other things but this is a this isa doable thing we just haven't had theenergy to do it and I think you knowwhat I don't said is exactly right I

Mean the fact that that homelessness sodisproportionately affects black andbrown folks I mean the black communityis at three to four fold increased riskof homelessnessthe United States this speaks a lot to

Who has political power who gets to makethe decisions and why we haven'tprioritized this okay so guess I'm inthe last thirty seconds of this programmark H your former TV person know howwhat that means I'm going to show you a

Few pictures from a visible people dotTV because I want you to see people whodo not have homes people do not have theresources these are the faces of thepeople that Mark gets to talk to markyou always ask the people you talk to

Who are on the streets their threewishes what are your three wishesbearing in mind the context of thatconversation do it I'm just I'm justgonna go with one right now and to wrapup is we have to start influencing

Change the black lives matter the defundthe police to me that's the Americandream right I had given up thatpoliticians listen to us but black livesmatter and defund police have shown thatwe can speak up and change policy so

When it comes to housing when it comesto providing support and solutions toend homelessness we have to speak up andif you're in the United States right nowI mean there's a lot of advocacy youhave to get involved you have to get

Involved at the local level and at thenational level right now the emergencyrental assistance and rent stabilizationact contact your senators we have to dosomething change policy get housingusing his platform while he has the

Chance mark mark Margo the three M'sthank you so much for bringing yourwisdom to the stream today reallyappreciate you and thank you YouTube forbeing part of the conversation too seeyou next time

You

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