12th Oct 2020
We’ve long been used to seeing footage of tarps serving a vital role in disaster stricken areas, but in recent times with the extra complications caused worldwide by the Covid-19 pandemic, when resources are stretched and distributing help is more difficult than ever, tarps are becoming a more commonplace sight in more affluent areas that have been hit by extra hardship.
When government resources are stretched or otherwise hindered, it often falls to volunteers and charities to fill the gap. We’ve seen this here in the UK with unprecedented numbers of citizens signing up and responding to calls for volunteers. Over in Austin Texas a large homelessness problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic and an ongoing heatwave:
- Over 1,000 unsheltered homes, more than 2,000 homeless
- Austin Mutual Aid's Beat the Heat program has been helping address gaps
- Many homeless people can't grasp the severity of COVID-19
- Volunteers provide food, water and hope
We often think of tarps as providing protection and shelter from wind and rain, but in places like Austin those same tarps have been more important in protecting the constantly exposed homeless from the sun and providing life-saving shade. “This is where I sleep out here—to keep away from the sun. A little shade,” said Sam Perez, a homeless man who lost his job and then home 7 months ago and now lives in a makeshift shelter built from boards, tarps and rocks.
Another issue that probably doesn’t occur to most of us is that homeless people might not have the information that we have. Not always having access to media, news or the internet, they may not even be aware that a global pandemic that people are dying from has occurred, and if they do, having no address means accessing official help is difficult. “I don’t know what a stimulus cheque is or what it’s for. I don’t even know why I’m wearing this mask. I don’t know why I can’t shake hands like the old times,” said Sam.
You can read the full story on this and watch the video at the original Spectrum News Article.