While COVID-19 kills or destroys peoples’ bodies, it also damages or erases their communities. It is an apocalyptic scenario that never had to be. Add in the additional stressors of divisiveness and severe climate events, we are facing a human and humane crisis.
A personal story. My sister lives in Hudson Heights, a New York City community of apartment dwellers. The main street of this neighborhood has been, is being, devastated by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. I know this neighborhood because I lived there for a month.
On a short block, 187th Street, that T’s into Fort Washington Avenue, a short walk for the residents who frequented the eateries, hairdressers, pharmacy, banks, and grocers. Owners were on site and addressed regulars by name. Staff knew the faces and greeted people with nods and smiles. Although it is New York City, the community is no different than small towns all over this country. Feeling isolated? Walk down to Vicky’s diner and grab a coffee and bagel.
The diner was two to three times longer than it was wide. Three booths and an eight-seat counter service along the left wall, four small tables along the right wall, and another two in the front. It was not spacious and there were lines during busy times. Still, waiters knew their customers’ regular orders, recognized strangers, and met extended families. When it was busy, there was no time to chat. “Order?” If you happen to pull out a newspaper or a book, the air turned hostile. However, go in during a slow period, and you got NYC friendly. Easy conversation.
No more. Vicky’s is gone. CBSNewYork reports Vicky’s Diner, Beloved Washington Heights Eatery, Forced to Close. High rents and no traffic. Vicky and her five employees are now jobless. Five more people become a statistic in the national unemployment numbers. Her landlord, who had worked with her in the past died, and the diner as well as other properties are now in control of a management group – faceless and unresponsive.
Empty stores and empty apartments help no one. As with any real estate — home, apartment, store, building – it is safer occupied than empty. In today’s world, there is no new owner or renter waiting in line. I’d think negotiating rent to maintain occupancy is optimal to protect the original investment, Unless, somehow, these vacancies feed into a LOSS and offset profits from other sources. Profit, no taxes, over people and communities. Shareholders first and stakeholders ignored in these extraordinary times which are morphing into the new normal where people and businesses die.
The dirty American secret is, only the monied class wins. They accumulate profits beyond reason while turning a blind eye to the less fortunate. Why? The lie they tell themselves. The lower classes are responsible for their own plight – no ambition, no education – and happy to live off the government. Therefore, it is their own responsibility to move out of overcrowded housing, poor neighborhoods, crappy hourly jobs, and increasing violence. All situations that have been orchestrated by low wages and corporate-controlled government, from local to national levels.
Homelessness is the ongoing American plague. In a “normal year,” there are 553,000 homeless on any given night. Think about that. In the wealthiest country in the world, a half-million people have no place to go and no food to eat, while the wealthiest have several residences around the country and the world.
In the “new” normal year, homelessness is increasing by 5% in New York, where there is a mandate to house the homeless, to 36% increase in Los Angeles. Wild-fires, floods, drought, hurricanes, and tornadoes are creating millions of migrants right here in America as well as all over the world.
What do people, families, children do? Where do people go? Is assigning parking spaces the answer? Tents? Cardboard boxes? Van camper parking lot communities? City trailer and converted bus parks? Who pays for what? For how long, especially since jobs disappear from hour to hour. What do people eat? Food kitchens? Who pays for what?
Security can disappear in an instant. Because you have a job today, doesn’t mean you’ll have a job tomorrow. Because you have a home today, doesn’t mean you’ll have one tomorrow. Because you have food available today, doesn’t mean you’ll have food tomorrow. Because you have health care today, doesn’t mean you’ll have it tomorrow.
This is your country, whether you recognize it or not. We are all at risk for exposure to COVID-19, severe weather, and layoffs. We are all one step away from homelessness. We need to think about creating decent affordable housing, food accessibility and distribution, and national internet accessibility for remote schooling and jobs.
Change is not optional. It’s happening minute by minute.
Vote for the country you want.
- Know WHERE to VOTE.
- Know the DAY you’re going to VOTE.
- Know the TIME you’re going to VOTE.
- Know HOW you’re getting to the polls to VOTE.
- Know you’ve assembled your necessary ID and documents you may need to VOTE.
- Make sure everyone you know is doing the same. Set up voting buddies and go together or in a carpool.
EVERY VOTE COUNTS. YOUR VOTE COUNTS.