The U.S. government is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic with a pair of injections — vaccinations for arms and heaps of cash for the economy. The latter response may have a beneficial side effect for Western North Carolina: offering people who are chronically homelessness or housing insecure a new beginning.
Nearly $50 billion in federal support has been designated for emergency coronavirus protection measures specifically for people experiencing homelessness. According to Emily Ball, who works as the homeless services lead for the city of Asheville, the funds also offer an unprecedented opportunity to place many of Asheville’s homeless residents into permanent housing.
“[The funding is] intended to be a pandemic response; it’s not actually intended to end homelessness. It just is, happily, an opportunity for us to end homelessness, because that is also a response to the coronavirus,” says Ball. “We can actually significantly reduce the number of people who are homeless right now as the direct result of that money.”