2020 has been a hard year for everyone. The COVID-19 crisis has created unprecedented challenges for health care, supply chains, and small businesses. The impacts on employment and housing insecurity could have a long-lasting impact on the lives of people at-risk of homelessness in San Diego. With unemployment continuing at dangerously high rates and city eviction moratoriums coming to an end, social policy researcher, the Aspen Institute, projects that an estimated 29 million people are at risk of evictions in the United States in the coming months.
San Diego’s lack of affordable housing is already one of the leading causes of homelessness, as individuals and families struggle to keep up with the cost of living. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this need and could have potentially devastating consequences for homelessness. Apartment List, an online platform for apartment hunting, estimated that 36% of renters missed rental payments in July alone.
More and more, the populations that are most vulnerable during this time are people experiencing poverty, who are already at risk of homelessness. Low-wage workers in America have suffered the greatest impact. Retail and hospitality sectors, which typically offer lower wages than other industries, are seeing an approximate 20 percent unemployment rate or higher. All these issues necessitate decisive action from service providers, like Father Joe’s Villages, to prepare for a potentially substantial increase of individuals and families falling into homelessness in 2021.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Father Joe’s Villages has been expanding their comprehensive services to meet the needs of San Diego’s most vulnerable. They added over 100 beds to their shelters, expanded their food services program to serve thousands of additional meals at new meal times and in different neighborhoods, and began extensive COVID-19 testing for people staying in their shelters and on the streets, resulting in over 4,300 tests administered in the community. Not only that, Father Joe’s Villages’ comprehensive services and housing programs work together to help neighbors end their homelessness for good. Father Joe’s Villages has moved over 825 people into permanent housing so far this year.
At 61 years old, Cheryl’s homelessness ended when she moved into Father Joe’s Villages’ Benson Place, a renovated hotel that provides permanent housing to over 82 people overcoming homelessness. She emphasized the importance of having safety and access to basic needs during this time. She shared with GB Magazine, “I’ve never had my own place. I’ve never had a running bathroom, or a place to keep my food cold or the safety of a locked door… I am blessed.”
As Father Joe’s Villages braces for record-breaking levels of housing insecurity this holiday season, their comprehensive services and long-lasting solutions are increasingly more critical to preventing and ending homelessness in San Diego.
Now more than ever, cash, car and household goods donations to Father Joe’s Villages can make an extraordinary difference in the lives of those most in need. Give today to support life-changing services for people experiencing homelessness, from essential housing to health care to therapeutic childcare. Visit www.neighbor.org today to make an impact.