Commentary: It’s time to end homelessness | Columnists
On any given night in the United States, upward of a half-million people are homeless. And that doesn’t include the millions of others who are living hand-to-mouth in hotels, or doubled up with family members or acquaintances, in often highly stressful temporary housing situations.
A recent study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates a shortage of more than 6.8 million affordable housing units for low-income Americans.
“The crisis created by COVID-19 has made it clearer than ever that stable, affordable housing for all is an imperative for public health, individual well-being, and our country,” said Diane Yentel, the group’s president and CEO.
Thousands of Americans, many of whom are employed, are now living in deplorable tent cities. Meanwhile, those forced to live in homeless shelters are often subject to unsanitary conditions, a lack of personal privacy, and even physical or sexual abuse.
Gender and racial inequities and injustice make it harder for women to afford housing. Women and children account for 34% of the unhoused population, while Black families disproportionately represent 43% of the unhoused.
“Women remain vulnerable to homelessness because of gender based violence, gender wage gaps, and employment protections such as paid sick leave, family paid leave, and affordable and accessible childcare,” said Christian F. Nunes, president of the National Organization for Women.