What the Pandemic Taught Us About the Homeless — and What We Shouldn’t Forget

The streets of our cities have been too empty and too full.

Emptied of cars and pedestrians, the streets of the pandemic became eerie still frames of an economy on pause. And yet, as we venture back to our sidewalks and storefronts, we are reminded that our streets also are a home, an imperfect and unsustainable haven for the transient masses we call “the homeless.” Never has it been starker than in the vacuum of social distancing that they are there, the only people who remained when all others retreated to the safety of their homes.

Thus begins my latest op-ed, co-authored with Thomas Hugh Byrne from Boston University and Benjamin F. Henwood from the University of Southern California, originally published in The Hill.

To read the full op-ed, click here.

The Crisis Is Real, But We Have a Secret Weapon

Last Sunday, I wrote an op-ed on the COVID-19 crisis for the local newspaper in my childhood hometown, the Hazleton Standard-Speaker:

I’m writing from Los Angeles, where a Navy hospital ship is docked in the port, helping to treat the overwhelming surge of coronavirus patients flooding our health care system. I never thought I’d see such a day, but it’s here. And it’s a warning that we ignore at our peril.

The crisis is real. As of today, over 15,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. That’s five times the death toll on 9/11. In the coming weeks, millions will get the virus. We will lose more Americans than we did in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam combined.

But there is good news. Here in LA, the growth rate is starting to slow. In Italy where it was the worst, it is slowing significantly. In east Asia where it all began, the peak is far behind them, and the economy is starting to bounce back. If we can slow the growth rate across the United States, we can save hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of lives.

I believe we can do it. But it’s going to require an unexpected weapon: compassion.

You can read the rest on the Standard-Speaker website if you have a subscription or if you want to buy a one-day subscription for $1.