For many of the homeless men and women who sell the Street Sense newspaper in Washington, D.C., the COVID-19 pandemic was just another obstacle they had to deal with in their day-to-day lives.
The restrictions caused by the pandemic had a significant impact on Street Sense vendor/artist Queenie Featherstone’s ability to communicate with others. As a woman with a hearing disability, she relied on reading lips to understand what people said. The mask mandate made that nearly impossible and don’t get her started on social distancing. Queenie also writes poetry for Street Sense.
“That part kind of hurts my heart, because I’ve always been a people person of hugging or greeting or kissing, in a friendly manner,” she said, with a chuckle. “But now because of this pandemic, I air hug.”
Featherstone demonstrated by crossing her arms across her chest and gesturing for the person she was talking to to do the same.
“We air hug each other, but it’s not like the physical greeting of your fellow man,” she said. “This is different.”
This week’s episode of the “Look at This” podcast examines the big and small ways the COVID-19 pandemic affected the daily lives of the District’s homeless population.