Anthropology's Jeffrey Schonberg Shares Insight in story, "DEBUNKED: Intersections Of Addiction, Homelessness And The COVID-19 Pandemic"

Author: Department of Anthropology
September 1, 2020

“The fact that the current opiate epidemic isn’t being addressed with the same type of force of any type of epidemic that is killing a particular group of people in of itself sort of speaks to forms of prejudice that is triggered by stigma against those people who may be suffering,” said Jeffrey Schonberg, a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at San Francisco State University

Schonberg is also a fellow at the Berkeley Center for Social Medicine at the University of California Berkeley. He’s co-author of “Righteous Dopefiend”— a book for which he and Phillipe Bourgois spent several years doing participant observation with the homeless in San Francisco.

During much of that time, both Schonberg and Bourgois lived and even slept outside along with the homeless population in San Francisco, and experienced a lot of stigmas. Schonberg has also witnessed examples of this stigma during the pandemic among healthcare workers.

“I do know of cases where they would be in a homeless encampment and they call an ambulance to come and because of COVID-19, they wouldn’t go into their tent to check them out—but they really needed to be checked out because they might have been experiencing particular COVID related symptoms,” Schonberg said. “And not providing them with the same type of services that someone who was housed would get around COVID.”

Listen to the story or read the story on the Utah Public Radio website.