Would You Go To a Homeless Shelter In a Pandemic?

In his weekly reflection for FamVin on homelessness Fr. Michael Carroll, CM, former Provincial and currently involved with the Eastern Province’s contribution to the Vincentian Family “13 Houses”  project, asks himself the question: “Would I live in a homeless shelter in a pandemic?”

I am fortunate enough to live in a place where there is a heightened sensitivity to the dangers of the virus and therefore multiple layers of protective measures are enforced. But I have asked myself the question, “What would I do if I were homeless today? What could I do?”

I came across an article on options for homeless people: “It’s a Time Bomb” 

Before you answer for yourself, look at some facts drawn mainly from the above article and what might be your options.


  • There is no staying at home when you do not have one.
  • Most live in dormitories that are fertile fields for the virus, with beds close enough for people sleeping in them to hold hands.
  • You can not block out the incessant coughing from a someone a few feet away
  • Many residents are not taking precautions, like washing their hands and staying six feet apart. They brush against each other when walking in a narrow stairwell. Most are not lucky enough to have a car to sleep in.

Maybe you have enough money to rent a storage bin to sleep in. (Renting a storage bin to stay out of a shelter. A 5′ x 10’ can cost $90 a month or down to $50 if you have a smartphone and search for the best deal.

Keep in mind that the homeless gig economy is drying up. And with the outdoor safety net falling apart — few pedestrians to beg for change; public bathrooms shut; many soup kitchens closed for lack of food and volunteers — the nightly shelter population has consistently reached levels seen only a few times in the last decade, and usually only on the most frigid nights of winter.


Realistically it comes down to two options

  • Stay on the street or find a homeless encampment.
  • Go into a shelter – if there is room

So maybe there is one more fact. You don’t have any good options!

What would you do? Be honest!

PS All bets are off if you ore aver 65 or have some underlying health problems!

Other posts in this series.

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