As the site manager for the Georgetown Tiny-House Village in Seattle, Andrew Constantino is responsible for the welfare of 65 homeless people – a tough job in normal times. Now, the pandemic has shut down many of the services that homeless people rely on for their survival.
Visitors are not allowed into the village, for fear that they will bring the COVID disease into a population of vulnerable people. Housing placements have stopped. Villagers who had jobs have been laid off. People who were building momentum in their lives have had the rug pulled out from under them.
Andrew is not discouraged. The agency that manages the village – the Low Income Housing Institute, or LIHI – is stepping up to the challenge, he says: “I’m encouraged that people at the villages are not forgotten about. There is actual attention and concern for their wellbeing.” The surrounding neighborhood is overwhelmingly encouraging, as well, bringing food, propane for cooking, and other resources.
Andrew thinks the pandemic has a lesson for everyone in society:
“You’re only going to be as protected as the people who are most vulnerable. If you just allow something like a pandemic to fester and to run through the poorest members of society, eventually the tide will rise and reach you, too. We should look at a lot of social issues the same way: It affects us all!”
You can hear my previous interview with Andrew – “How To Live in the Rubble of Empire” – here.