Guest Post by Dr. David Wenger, Executive Director of Central Valley Habitat for Humanity
During this time of uncertainty people must deal with many challenges in life. We are being told to wash our hands, disinfect our homes and offices, use social distancing, work from home and in some cases isolate ourselves in our homes. Americans across the nation are rallying to implement these suggestions. Let’s take a minute to consider what the Coronavirus situation means to our low-income population that is dealing with housing insecurity.
For the individuals and families that are paying more that 30% of their income to provide housing for themselves, there are limited or no funds to purchase the extra cleaning supplies that are required to continually wipe and clean homes. Additionally, in order to isolate in the home requires additional funds for food and grocery items that are needed to sustain someone on a continual basis. As businesses close, people with no emergency savings are faced with the question of financial survival.
The individuals that are living in substandard housing that is plagued with mold or other issues that contribute to respiratory problems become more susceptible to viruses that affect the respiratory system.
Families who live in housing that is overcrowded or in neighborhoods that are overcrowded, do not have an option to isolate from others. It becomes physically impossible to practice social isolation in a crowded neighborhood. If a family member gets sick, it is impossible to isolate when there are 3 people to a bedroom in an overcrowded home.
The stress of dealing with emergency situations such as the Coronavirus leave people depressed and with weakened immune systems.
The closing of schools and non-essential businesses can cause increased financial strain on the families by needing to spend less time at work to watch their children and also losing their income completely if they work for a non-essential business, which could leave them facing financial hardship or eviction.
Many have heard me talk about the fact that Central Valley Habitat for Humanity is in the long-term solution business. We work with families and communities to provide housing that addresses social, emotional, physical and financial needs. While no one could have predicted a pandemic, we can work together to provide housing that prepares families for current and future challenges. Habitat housing is adequate in size. Habitat housing is free of unhealthy infestations such as mold. Habitat housing allows communities to prosper. Habitat housing allows families to build a budget that supports current and future needs.
As we work as a community and nation to address the many physical and emotional symptoms presented by the Coronavirus, let us also look toward long-term sustainable solutions. Preventative programs are not cheap or easy in the short term, but they are better than reactionary approaches that never provide a long-term solution.
In times like this when volunteers cannot be on our construction site, we front the majority of construction costs from the organization funds and what donations of labor we can get from paid contractors. If you would like to help build up the community, please consider donating from the safety of your home via our website donation page.
Thank you for doing everything you can to keep your family safe so that we can keep building for families in need.