Offer private beds and bathrooms to homeless people when possible (however, as the National Health Care for the Homeless Council notes, care should be taken to ensure that the process of isolation is not traumatizing). Some states have housed people in hotels.
California established Project Roomkey to help provide hotel rooms for people experiencing homelessness. While the program demonstrated that governments can quickly take actions to end homelessness, it ran out of funding.
According to a WBUR article, some Boston-area shelters used empty college and university dorms to provide shelter.
Services should try to stay open, not turn anyone away, and not require abstinence
Try to find additional shelter sites
House people who are most at risk of the virus first
Develop transportation protocols to ensure that people have access to health care
Ensure that people experiencing homelessness have access to information about emergency cash assistance
Establish policies around staff well-being, including:
Coordination of personal protective equipment (PPE)
Adequate staff training
Contingency plans for when staff are absent
Minimalization of client contact among staff members who are most at risk of the virus
Access to stress and coping resources
Minimal contact with client belongings
Laundering of staff clothes
Masks and face coverings
Use text messaging as a way to communicate with people experiencing homelessness
Ensure that information is accessible in a variety of languages
Ensure adequate testing and screening
Increase access to hygienic facilities for people experiencing homelessness
Develop safe parking facilities: some areas are using state parks as temporary encampment grounds, and some cities are setting up temporary tent cities
Ban encampment clearings, vehicle ticketing, and impoundment
Decrease criminalization of homelessness (for more information, click here)
Schools should ensure the safety of students during shutdowns
Schools (including colleges and universities) should ensure that students have adequate access to food.
There should be an increase of housing vouchers for students experiencing homelessness.
Place moratoriums on eviction, rent, and foreclosure proceedings
Offer access to paid sick and family medical leave
Offer hazard pay to frontline workers
Reduce jail and prison populations to prevent the spread of the virus in crowded conditions
Ensure that cash relief programs reach people experiencing homelessness
Establish community-wide planning to best meet the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness
Offer incentives to landlords to rent to people experiencing homelessness
In addition, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, National Low Income Housing Coalition, and National Health Care for the Homeless Council have developed The Framework for an Equitable COVID-19 Homelessness Response. This offers suggestions for immediate, short-term, long-term, and longer-term actions for unsheltered people, shelter, housing, prevention and diversion, and strengthening systems for the future.
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