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Recent News | August 11, 2020
COVID-19: A MAGNIFIER OF INEQUITIES
One of the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic was to highlight how critical some of our existing policy initiatives are to ensuring the health, safety and access of residents and clients in good times and in times of crisis. For instance, only about half of seniors living in government-supported affordable housing communities have access to an onsite resident service coordinator. A service coordinator often is the only support low-income, elderly residents have to access the services, resources and care they need to remain healthy and home for life. However, during this time of isolation, a service coordinator becomes even more of a lifeline for those living alone, providing regular and vital contact to ensure needs are being met.
Another critical lifeline is that of digital connectivity. Many of us take for granted the ability to work, socialize, shop and access care as well as online resources from the safety and comfort of our homes. However, this resource is out of reach for many low-income residents.
Nationally, nearly 70 percent of very low-income senior renters do not have a computer, and 74 percent do not have home Internet access.
Many of these residents rely on government subsidies for limited cell phone service as their only means of contact with the outside world. This comes at a time when care providers are reporting exponential increases in telehealth visits; but a large majority of our residents, most of whom have chronic medical conditions, do not have the resources needed to conduct such visits remotely. This leaves them cut off from the care, services and support systems they need to remain healthy and thriving during this critical time.
COVID-19: THE OPPORTUNITY
As was once said by Winston Churchill, “[n]ever waste a good crisis.” It may sound insensitive, but the bright side o fa crisis is that it forces reprioritization and swift action. Times of crisis can often lead to an overall improvement in the community. At this moment, policymakers understand the importance of “home” in a way they never have before— you cannot “shelter in place” if you do not have a shelter. Our government bodies are experiencing a sense of urgency to finally act on issues for which we have been advocating for many years — including, but not limited to, the development of more affordable housing, expansion of service coordinator funding, digital inclusion and regulatory relief and support for our health care service lines.
National Church Residences’ Public Policy & Government Relations team is seizing the opportunity to inform lasting policy and funding decisions being made at all levels of government in response to this crisis and beyond. We are fighting at all levels of government, not only for the resources needed to respond to this pandemic in all of our care settings, but also to impact long-lasting programmatic changes to address some of the inequities laid bare by this experience. The difficult lessons learned through the devastation of COVID-19 will in fact not be wasted, as they will continue to demonstrate just how critical public investments are in the housing and services that reach our nation’s most vulnerable citizens right in their homes.
For more information on National Church Residences’ public policy and government relations work, please visit www.nationalchurchresidences.org/about-us/public-policy
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