Homelessness

A former state prisoner was released from William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply, Oklahoma on April 22, before the state prison agency knew he had tested positive for COVID-19.

The infected man was tested just two days before his release, following a new Department of Corrections initiative that launched on April 20 to test every prisoner before their release date. According to a news release, the man had no symptoms before he left the prison.

Eight-year-old Mariana Aceves is doing her math homework — subtraction by counting backward — while sitting on the bed she shares with her mom, Lorena Aceves.

They're sitting on the bed because they have nowhere else to go. They live in an 8-foot-by-12-foot room called a tiny house. It's part of Seattle's transitional housing, where people experiencing homelessness can live until they find a job and a place of their own.

There's room for the bed they share, a TV shelf and "a little tiny plastic dresser."

Local lawmakers in San Francisco have given the mayor 12 days to secure 7,000 hotel rooms to house the city's homeless population during the coronavirus emergency, plus another 1,250 rooms for frontline workers.

The emergency ordinance passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors requires Mayor London Breed to secure the rooms by April 26 and asks her to use emergency powers to commandeer the rooms if she is unable to reach deals with hotel owners.

Italy has been hard-hit by the coronavirus epidemic, with a death toll of more than 16,000. Its economy is in near-shutdown.

Although Italy's south has seen fewer deaths from COVID-19 infection than the north, its poverty and jobless rates are high. In lockdown since March 10, Naples, a normally bustling city of more than 2 million, is now a ghost town. Acts of charity, long a hallmark of this city, have become more important than ever as a means of sustenance.

People experiencing homelessness are already a vulnerable population, and even more so during a global pandemic.

Oklahoma City nonprofits are ramping up street outreach and coordinating teams to deliver food, supplies and COVID-19 education materials to people who are unsheltered. Kinsey Crocker, the communications director for The Homeless Alliance, says the outreach efforts are critical.

Homelessness is a vexing national problem, but nearly half of the country's unsheltered homeless live in one state: California.

When the icy wind blows off the Spokane River, the temperature can routinely plunge below zero on this city's worn streets near downtown and the I-90 freeway. Trying to survive without shelter out here is almost impossible.

Just ask Mariah Hodges.

"The first night I came here I was almost frozen to the sidewalk," Hodges says.

Kateleigh Mills / KOSU

The U.S. Census helps determine how much federal aid each state gets, but it’s not the only population count that happens. Every year, in late January, volunteers spread out across Oklahoma City to find people who often don’t want to be counted.

Charles Gibson pushes a shopping cart toward his soggy tent on a tenuous patch of a grassy drainage ditch along a bike trail in Santa Rosa, Calif. He's one of nearly 200 people living in a sprawling camp here that has sprung up along a popular recreation corridor. It's a community, Gibson says, that often feels caught between opposing forces who aren't always listening.

"I mean, they [local officials] want us to be able to govern ourselves, but they are not giving us the tools we need," Gibson says. "They don't want you hiding, but they don't want you in their face, you know?"

It's 5 a.m., and the thermostat reads 44 degrees. Cars round the bend of an off-ramp of state Route 24 in northern Oakland, Calif., spraying bands of light across Norm Ciha and his neighbors. They wear headlamps so they can see in the dark as they gather their belongings: tents, clothes, cooking gear, carts piled with blankets, children's shoes and, in one case, a set of golf clubs.

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