While many New Yorkers are concerned with the growing fear of the spread of monkeypox, new reports suggest the city’s most vulnerable residents are experiencing the most anxiety over the illness, and facing the most difficulty accessing treatment.
Rue Parkin, founder of Help NYC–a website that aids individuals by connecting them with resources such as food and clothing–revealed a shocking need among homeless individuals. Parkin told amNewYork Metro that during mid-July nearly 75% of website searches came for Monkeypox resources, beating out food requests for the first time. Parkin also revealed that those suffering homelessness are unable to apply for the Monkeypox vaccine without an address.
This comes in the wake of both Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams declaring states of emergency over the monkeypox crisis — proclamations that aim to provide greater resources and expediency in addressing the situation.
“I met a gentleman who was experiencing street homelessness and currently infected with Monkeypox. He could not get tested, access to a primary care provider, or any hope of vaccination. We had to call the vax hotline to get an appointment, but they wouldn’t give him a vaccination because he doesn’t have a permanent street address,” Parkin said.
Parkin believes that addresses are being required to prevent those coming from outside of NYC from being able to receive the vaccine. For Parkin, this is unacceptable and dangerous for those living on the street who are even more susceptible.
“We are the epicenter of Monkeypox and it’s affecting everyone. Not just men who have sex with men and transgender. It is affecting, and it’s going to affect, the homeless if they can not get single room occupancy,” Parkin said.
Several homeless rights organizations say they have been stepping up to offer their addresses.
Charles King of Housing Works, an organization committed to providing HIV and AIDS prevention among the homeless population, states that he is encouraging clientele to list one of their offices in order to prevent the lack of an address from becoming an issue.
Presently, Manhattan is leading the way with most Monkeypox cases coming in at 562 reported cases with the ages between 30-39 having had the most impact. Males are still primarily afflicted.
amNewYork Metro reached out the NYC Department of Health and is awaiting a response.