The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually all populations, showing no signs of discrimination in its communicability. While the contagion factor of the novel coronavirus impacts us all, those living below the poverty line and without secure housing are especially vulnerable to infection. Case-number hotspots have required some shelters to reduce capacity or close completely until further notice. Homelessness is a complicated social issue to begin with, but the COVID-19 outbreaks have only exacerbated the daily struggles of those without a home.

Fortunately, difficult scenarios are often a catalyst for innovative solutions. That is precisely what we’ve seen in the way that communities are adapting to the interconnected issues of housing insecurity and risk of coronavirus exposure. Namely, cities are leasing and accepting donations of RVs and using these “domesticated” vehicles as housing alternatives for individuals experiencing homelessness. RVs are true multipurpose vehicles, and it’s crucial that we remember this when striving to find diverse and situation-specific solutions for COVID-19, a universal pandemic that often feels all too personal. 

In this article, an installment from our COVID-19 resources collection, East Coast Campers takes a look at how RVs may offer significant relief for homeless individuals, easing the burdens of both housing insecurity and outbreak prevention.

Homelessness and COVID-19

To provide a bit of context, it’s worth explaining the relationship between homelessness and increased risk of infection from COVID-19. Homeless individuals often rely on shelters and public charity organizations to provide shelter and relief, but these environments tend to be densely populated — a surefire breeding ground for highly communicable diseases such as coronavirus. Furthermore, persons living below the poverty line or without secure housing statistically have higher rates of preexisting illness and medical conditions, so their immunity may be compromised even during periods where no pandemic poses a threat. 

Some shelters have implemented procedures to increase distance between visitors, but this lowers their overall holding capacity and sends more people back into public streets. Thus, it’s critical that alternative housing options be made available, not only to distribute populations in a safer way, but to provide recovery spaces for those showing symptoms of the virus.

Adequate Shelter in the Bay Area

San Francisco has historically been a trendsetter and cultural hub, but it’s not necessarily renowned for its responses to international crises. And yet, the West Coast city was one of the first major metropolitan areas to respond to housing and quarantine issues that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic. Less than three weeks into March, San Francisco preemptively rented 30 recreational vehicles with funds obtained from the emergency declaration made by Mayor London Breed. 

In conjunction with the California Department of Public Health and Bay Area healthcare providers, the fleet of RVs will be designated for use by homeless individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. In a city with at least 8,000 people depending on homeless shelters, living on streets, or enduring poverty-related housing insecurity. We should look to major cities like San Francisco that have already taken a huge step in the right direction — not only for flattening the curve, but laying the groundwork for future progress in social welfare policy. 

What’s Next?

One city making efforts to source RVs as alternative housing and quarantine units for homeless individuals is an achievement in and of itself, but it’s not enough to completely mitigate coronavirus contagion. Further reducing numbers of COVID-19 cases will require cooperation and coordination between local and state health departments, homeless relief systems, healthcare facilities, and housing authorities. It will also require voluntary adherence to guidelines for social distancing, self-isolation, and disease prevention measures. 

By working together to spread information about the pandemic and how to protect vulnerable populations as well as oneself, the odds of recovering from this tumultuous time are greater than ever.    

East Coast Campers recognizes the importance of providing informative and insightful content during these uncertain times, which is why we so strongly support the dissemination of stories of hope such as these. If you’d like to learn more about how recreational vehicles are influencing responses of communities and individuals during this historic period, please visit our blog to explore our COVID-19 resources, or shop our extensive inventory of new and used campers and RVs, all of which come with financing options.