With the time I spend in homeless shelters and in our work with the homeless, I still see the concentration or density of the living conditions remaining dangerously congested. The shelters and nonprofits are doing the best they can with their current assets, but we fear it isn’t enough or isn’t fast enough. Hennepin County did fund hotel rooms for the most vulnerable in the homeless population, but there remain hundreds of folks (or a few thousand?) who are all exposed.
That should be of concern for all of us.
When — not if but when — COVID-19 begins to move among our homeless neighbors, not only will it spread rapidly among that population, it will spread even more rapidly among the general population. Homeless folks are very mobile; they have to be. And those people carrying the virus may likely infect many others, as there is no way to “stay at home” if you have no “home.”
So, I would simply urge you to consider offering up your appropriate real estate assets to our state and local government for use and contacting those in leadership with whom you have a relationship, sharing this message and urging them to do the same.
This is a time to get creative. This is a time to support our community. And as business leaders, this is our opportunity to demonstrate what having the heart of a true Minnesotan really looks like.
RICHARD BAHR, MAPLE GROVE
The writer is a co-founder of Threshold to New Life, a nonprofit working to reduce homelessness in the Twin Cities.