Homeless without a Mask
Wearing masks has become a political issue. But growing numbers of homeless wish they had masks to wear. The reality of COVID is hitting them hard. So many of their companions are stricken.
Some simple facts. Homeless people are more vulnerable. They have many pre-existing conditions. So many of the situations in which homeless people are conducive to what is so clinically referred to as “community spread.” They have poor access to water to wash their hands. Social distancing? Almost impossible.
There are many reasons why people are homeless. The reasons transcend stereotypes of drug addiction, etc. And with the loss of incomes, homelessness s becoming its own epidemic. COVID does not bother to ask the reason. It simply attacks with military precision vulnerable populations, rich or poor.
Some in the general population have homes and means to wear masks mass but refuse to in the name of personal freedom. Others wish they had masks, especially since they are daily confronted with the stark realities of the mortality they see around themselves.
Hanes, a manufacturer of many well-known brands of clothing, is donating 1 million face masks to nonprofit organizations supporting those experiencing homelessness across the country, including COVID-19 hotspots such as Los Angeles, Miami and Houston. Hanes is leveraging its relationships with nonprofit agencies built through the Hanes National Sock Drive to help those experiencing homelessness gain access to masks.
Since March Hanes Brands has retrofitted some of its production units. They now make N95 masks for health care workers on the front line of the battle against the COVOID-19 pandemic. President Donald Trump took great pride in announcing this conversion.
Of course, some will look at these initiatives cynically as a commercial gimmick. But those who do not have access to masks care little about the motivation. Ironically, this initiative has benefits to those on both sides of the political divide on masks. Everyone is healthier when homeless people have and wear masks!
Working with long-standing partner Mark Horvath, founder of nonprofit Invisible People, which is dedicated to educating the public about homelessness, the brand is supporting local homeless assistance organizations across all 50 states, including Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Since 2009, Hanes has donated more than 3 million pairs of socks, as well as other critical basic apparel including underwear, T-shirts and bras to shelters and support organizations nationwide.
“Homeless people face even more limited avenues for support during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Horvath said. “Hanes continues to make a significant difference through its longstanding commitment to this nation’s often invisible population. This program is critical to driving the importance of having and wearing face coverings whenever social distancing cannot be practiced.