People Experiencing Homelessness Are Part of Our Community
Despite the varied experiences, people experiencing homelessness are a hidden and often-ignored minority in our society. Many Americans are only a few missed paychecks away from experiencing homelessness themselves, and yet local policies and practices speak a message of stigmatization and criminalization, rather than support. In 2007 St. Petersburg police slashed tents belonging to the homeless, citing their conditions as fire hazards. After the episode, a homeless advocacy group called St. Petersburg one of the nation’s “meanest cities.”
Housing Scarcity and a Deficit of Options
People of all ages, races, and situations can experience homelessness and thousands of adults, children, and families lack the resources to pay local market rents, secure subsidized housing, or even access the limited number of spots in temporary shelters. The scarcity of affordable housing in Pinellas County exacerbates the situation and there is an even larger deficit of housing options available to low-income households. The pandemic has pushed even more people out of their jobs and homes and across the board, people of color are disproportionately affected by housing insecurity and homelessness.
Accessible, Affordable Housing for All
Providing affordable and accessible housing in Pinellas County must be a focus for health equity advocates as we confront this unacceptable situation in our community. Without consistent, quality shelter, it’s hard for anyone to stay healthy and realize their potential.