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Helping the Homeless

COVID-19 Homeless

There is an urgent need to bring PPE to New York’s most vulnerable population

By: Marissa Roberge

February 9, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic, according to The Wall Street Journal, is “fueling New York City’s homeless crisis.” A historic high, about 20,000 people are currently experiencing homelessness. To make matters worse, homeless individuals are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 with a mortality rate 78% higher than the city-wide average.

There are many reasons for this: according to city data, close to one-third of adults living in homeless shelters are 65 or older; shelter residents often do not have the ability to wash their hands frequently; many individuals live in crowded spaces that are not sanitized often; and finally, a recent study showed that the strain of homelessness causes people to age faster and experience geriatric illnesses earlier than is typical. As a result, there is an urgent need to provide masks and other PPE to this population and the facilities that care for them.

The Afya Foundation has distributed over 2 million masks to hospitals and health centers across the country, and we have not forgotten New York’s homeless in this effort.

Afya has delivered 300 masks to Covenant House, New York City’s largest provider serving homeless youth.

The pandemic had a devastating impact on Covenant House. On March 8, 2020, Covenant House diagnosed their first 3 positive cases of COVID-19. The following week that number had more than tripled to 11 patients. Administrators had to give up office space to create a separate covid-positive floor for residents.

“We didn’t have enough personal protection equipment when this all started. And so we were having to reuse equipment and we were very concerned about that,” said Executive Director Sister Nancy Downing.

Dr. David J. Davis, Covenant House Medical Director, told us Afya’s donation had “a huge impact” on the way they practice. Covenant House now has enough masks for all of its staff and residents.

Afya is not done finding ways to support the homeless. At the start of the year, we partnered with Pandemic Relief Supply to purchase and distribute masks to six organizations serving New York City’s homeless population.

Just a $10 donation will allow us to purchase 200 masks. We predict that if we are able to distribute half a million masks, it will provide protection to all of the homeless in New York for a full month!

If you would like to support our effort and learn more about what your money can buy, click here.