Places to Spare: Converting Vacant Areas into Homeless Housing

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homeless man

A lot of people have been stepping up to provide housing for the homeless. The past year has put everyone through various amounts of stress, anxiety, and challenges. However, there have also been moments of goodness despite all the negativity that people went through.

The global pandemic allowed all of us to realize our ability to help those most in need. People have been giving back and doing their fair share to help everyone else get through these trying times. Whatever they can do within their means, they’re doing it for the good of others.

Rethinking Urban Spaces

Homelessness has always been a rampant issue across different states throughout the country. As a matter of fact, even before the pandemic hit, homelessness rates were at the highest they had ever been in 20 years. Coupled with all the current unfortunate circumstances, like the threat of mass unemployment, the number of homeless people is only expected to increase.

While there are homeless shelters scattered across cities, it has become difficult for these highly communal places to observe physical distancing. As a result, they have chosen to limit the number of people to let in.

Nonetheless, various cities and communities have been finding ways to mitigate this crisis significantly. Their solution is to encourage homeowners and business owners to put their vacant spaces to good use. Here are some places that people have been transforming to serve as alternatives for the homeless shelter.

Home Garage Units

Garage conversions have slowly been on the rise in recent years due to the increasing need for affordable housing. For many homeowners, this simple started as an avenue to generate extra income, especially for those located in cities that usually draw many tourists.

There’s plenty of potential for making a garage more livable without having to spend much to transform it. The costs will cover a few dollars for maintenance, like repair services for the garage door, but major renovations shouldn’t be essential.

Now, residential homes with converted garages have been made into viable and affordable housing options for the homeless. They’ve turned into accessory dwelling units (ADU), and some homeowners have even suspended asking for any form of payment. It allows for a decent, separated living situation for many, which is also essential in mitigating the risk of transmission of the virus.

empty conference room

Unused Offices

The global pandemic forced most businesses to transition their most, if not all, their operations online. As a result, countless establishments and offices were left vacant. Turning them into makeshift homeless shelters, for the time being, can be a good use for these empty spaces.

This is exactly what other business owners and concerned individuals have done as the global crisis persists. Most owners have allowed people to transform their places of business to provide housing for the homeless.

Some see this as a temporary solution, especially as the threat of the virus continues. While the world has begun its slow recovery towards the post-pandemic world, most businesses have also chosen to make the work-from-home arrangement a permanent option for some of their employees. This will essentially leave different cities with plenty of vacant buildings, easily converted if necessary.

Commercial Parking Spaces

Most commercial establishments, particularly malls and high-rise buildings, invest heavily in multi-level parking lots for their customers and personnel. Yet, these types of businesses have seen limited numbers of visits as lockdowns, and shelter-in-place measures remain.

These instances have left parking spaces virtually empty and unattended, which also opens up an opportunity for cities to use them to house the homeless. In fact, certain organizations and communities have already adopted this type of solution.

Coordinating with the operators of these spaces should be fairly easy, especially since it hasn’t been utilized much throughout the pandemic. The biggest threats that homeless people face when sleeping out in the open are not having enough heat and other people stealing their things. Parking lots can serve as a safe and warm place for the homeless to sleep in.

The Greater Good

The global pandemic will likely have lasting effects on the issue of homelessness. In fact, the biggest challenge for this year is identifying how much of the population remains homeless. Countless volunteers, outreach workers, and charitable organizations conduct a street count to determine this number. Unfortunately, this has been canceled or delayed in certain areas.

Regardless, a lot of people are putting in money to help combat this growing issue. Others are simply doing everything within their capabilities to help. It’s an uplifting and comforting effort that shouldn’t be overshadowed by all the negative experiences we’ve been facing. In moments of crisis, our humanity will always prevail.

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