GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - As the coronavirus continues to spread, communities across the globe are falling victim to its siege. Now that people are encouraged to stay home, the homeless population remains vulnerable and at risk.
“It’s a challenge for them normally without this, but it’s worse now because a lot of their resources, the places where they get their food and their supplies from, are closed. They’ve closed their doors. So, it makes it worse now," said Lynda Favre, homeless advocate and founder of Shepherd of the Gulf.
Like she has many times before, Favre is taking what matters she can into her own hands.
“I’m going out and see what I can do to give them what little bit I’ve got and start making up some masks. Some of my friends are talking about helping me out with some masks so I can try to get them some protection. You know, this shelter in place, you gotta have a shelter to be sheltered in place. They don’t even have that," Favre said.
The main suggestion from health officials, when trying to avoid the virus, is to maintain good hygiene, something that wasn’t easy before the outbreak.
“One thing that folks that are not homeless have access to is hygiene. We’re encouraged to wash our hands every 20 minutes and maintain social distancing. For homeless folks, much of this stuff is out of reach or is just impossible to do without help," said Gulf Coast Community Ministries Executive Director Michael Wilson.
So Wilson and his organization have an idea.
“We are considering some kind of response vehicles that might have shower facilities in them. So, anybody with a vehicle that they’d be willing to loan, we have the property to house it, the water to hook it up and volunteers that could help run it. We just don’t have access to the equipment itself," Wilson said.
This facility would do more than help the homeless steer clear of the coronavirus.
“It would at least give them that first line of defense in hygiene. It would also go a long way toward their basic dignity. They haven’t been able to shower in weeks. That’s something that goes a long way toward their dignity and self-respect and their quality of life overall,” Wilson told WLOX.
If you would like to assist Lynda Favre in her efforts with the South Mississippi homeless community, she can be reached at (228) 229-8980.
Michael Wilson and the Gulf Coast Community Ministries are located at 3914 15th Street, Gulfport, MS 39501. Their website can be found here.