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Fronteras: How COVID-19 Impacts Homelessness And The Border

There are nearly 26,000 people experiencing homelessness in Texas. With limited or no access to everyday hygiene products or information on how to protect themselves from contagion, this population is at a high risk for COVID-19. A Washington Post reporter recently visited one of the largest homeless shelters in the country to profile a worker putting herself on the frontline to help this vulnerable population.

Then, two border communities have conflicting public responses on how to control the spread of the coronavirus in the shared region.

Credit The Washington Post
Haven for Hope staffers and contractors set up a temperature testing area for clients and visitors entering the Haven courtyard.

“It Is A Certainty That The Virus Is Coming For The Homeless”

Over half a million people experience homelessness in the U.S., including over 2,800 in San Antonio. The threat of COVID-19 to the homeless population is highlighted in a recent article in The Washington Post.

Hannah Dreier is a national enterprise reporter at The Washington Post. While reporting in San Antonio recently, she focused on how people experiencing homelessness contend with the latest threat to their health, and profiled one worker who is putting herself on the frontline everyday to help this vulnerable population.

Monica Garcia is the lead outreach specialist for Haven For Hope, a San Antonio homeless shelter that serves around 1,700 people every day at its 22-acre campus.

The shelter is in need of disinfectant, wipes, medical masks and hand sanitizers. It also accepts drop-off donations of new packages of underwear and socks for men, women, and children; diapers; formula; and video game consoles for children.

Donors are asked to make an appointment before dropping off donations. Appointments can be made Monday–Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Call 210-212-2920, or visit HavenForHope.org

Credit Angela Kocherga | El Paso Matters
A vendor sells newspapers on Avenida Juárez.

El Paso And Its Sister City Take Different Approaches To Coronavirus Threat

Border cities are one community separated by an invisible international line, and in some instances, a not-so-invisible barrier. Public health authorities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border often work together to care for their shared region.

But the response to COVID-19 has exposed differences in the approaches taken by the two nations as they try to slow the spread of the virus. 

North of the border, life is on pause. Businesses are closed while people shelter in place and try to remain at a safe distance from others when making essential trips outside of their homes. But to the south, life is going on as usual, which raises a challenge for ongoing methods to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1 and Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren