A little over one year ago, just a month into COVID shutdowns, our now-Advocacy Director Michael Taub wrote for the Legal Intelligencer of the life-and-death dilemmas the pandemic posed to Philadelphians experiencing or at risk of homelessness. How is someone living in a shelter supposed to isolate, or someone living on the street quarantine? How are all the people whose shifts disappeared overnight supposed to pay their rent? How was an already-overburdened shelter system supposed to accommodate record numbers of people while at the same time follow CDC guidelines? How could HAP help?
HAP has always been a direct-service organization—serving the urgent and critical needs of individual clients has always come first. During the pandemic, especially in colder weather when we were unable to even meet with prospective clients outdoors in the community, direct engagement was impossible. The street homeless population was increasing while the magnitude of the COVID-related crisis and its potentially devastating effects on the people we are meant to serve, was alarming.