Physical distancing for the Covid-19 virus has been an issue in the impoverished Downtown Eastside of Vancouver where the street functions as the community’s living room. Many residents of this area live in the SROs’ (single room occupant) hotels in the area. These offer a room with a shared bathroom for the entire floor.
CBC’s Angela Jung has written this article indicating that the City of Vancouver is reserving hotel rooms for individuals who are homeless or using shelters that may need physical isolation because of the Covid-19 virus.
The City has been working with Vancouver Coastal Health and BC Housing to co-ordinate care and support for the downtown eastside community.
Existing services have been sharply curtailed because of the Covid-19 virus, including places where people could get food or use the washroom. While the City has added 12 handwashing stations in the area, they have not provided any toilets for local residents to use. Of the handwashing stations, four have already been stolen, and three have been recovered.
“Advocates have voiced concern that a coronavirus outbreak among the homeless would be devastating since many are battling addiction and already suffer from compromised immune systems.”
Christopher Livingstone, an outreach coordinator with Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre said it best: “ I’d rather not wait until we’re isolating, I’d like to see them off the streets now.”