Homeless advocates call for relief funding amid COVID-19 crisis

Homeless advocates say that they don't want to be forgotten. Right now they are pushing for increased leadership and funding from the state.

“We need more support, and we need more resources and urgently need them now,” said Tim Marx President and CEO of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Homeless service providers from across Minnesota met Thursday via teleconference to discuss the public health and safety challenges presented by the pandemic. Organizations that provide emergency shelter and other services to the homeless fear the that group is at risk if steps aren’t taken to adequately protect the population.

Marx says that safe distancing and social isolation is very difficult, if not impossible to achieve homeless shelters.

“Now that we are in this COVID crisis, the situation is becoming even more dire, as people seek services and respite in our shelters, in emergency centers and many of whom are laid off from their work right now trying to save money so that they can stay in their apartments by seeking meals from us,” said Marx. “Those who feel vulnerable want to come into shelter, and I think that this is a situation, I think that this is a situation that is occurring across the state.”

In the Wilder Foundation’s most recent study conducted in 2018, research estimates that nearly 20,000 people experience homelessness in Minnesota on any given night. It's estimated that nearly 60 percent of homeless adults have a chronic physical health condition, which would put them at grave risk of contracting COVID-19.

Homeless advocates are calling for a number things including more COVID-19 relief funding as well as a coordinated response to the pandemic from the state.