Ensuring Homeless Americans Get Enough Food Has Never Been Easy. Now, It’s Next to Impossible

Even before the pandemic hit, many food-insecure Americans were forced to make difficult decisions. Some gave up some meals so their children did not, as they waited for a new month’s SNAP benefits to kick in. Others opted to pay their rent, a doctor’s bill, or bus fare to work instead of buying a full load of groceries. Many also visited food pantries and soup kitchens to see them through hungry days—a need that has exploded since March.

Things are even more radically precarious for those who are unhoused. Before the pandemic, between 3.5 and 5 million people in the U.S. experienced homelessness over the course of a year. Now, despite a temporary—and hardly encompassing—federal eviction ban, enacted in early September, many landlords have nevertheless turned out tenants unable to pay rent. Some economists project the nation’s homeless rates will surge by as much as 45 percent by the end of 2020.

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