COVID-19 Protections for Homeless Populations
Responses Should be Built on Science and Best Practices, Not Prejudice
Send a letter calling for your community to stop sweeps and place people into individual housing units in accordance with CDC guidance, a letter calling for your community to deprioritize use of congregate shelter facilities for individuals experiencing homelessness, or a letter calling for both. A template press release is also available. See the impact of the letters, here.
Source: Brooke Anderson Photography
COVID-19 Webinar Series
The Law Center launched an ongoing webinar series in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upcoming topics include racial equity, policing and incarceration, and renters’ rights. These webinars serve as a way to share resources and advocacy tools to people across the country so that we can all work together to end and prevent homelessness.
Our webinar page is updated every week with video recordings of past webinars and information on more to come.
Schools, advocates, and government entities should center equal access to all services, including:
- Modifications to curricula and distance learning, including access to course materials, and remembering that not all students will have access to computers, internet, or other digital methods of learning;
- Access to food and monetary aid and ways to effectively distribute aid to homeless students and unaccompanied minors who may not be able to reach common distribution points;
- Setting up processes to keep up with currently identified students experiencing homelessness and to identify students who may be losing housing during this hard time;
- Heeding CDC guidelines on refraining from forcing people, including children and youth, into group shelters during the pandemic;
- Prioritizing access to housing and healthcare, especially for unaccompanied youth who usually may not meet requirements for certain housing or aid programs.
For more on McKinney-Vento education provisions requiring that students experiencing homelessness have equal access to education and school services, and how the provisions can specifically be applied during the pandemic, see this living Q & A document by SchoolHouse Connection.
Know-Your-Rights Toolkits for Unaccompanied Youth and Families Who Lack Stable Housing, including updates for COVID-19
The American Bar Association has free legal guidance for income-eligible users surrounding housing, unemployment, and other civil legal questions during the coronavirus pandemic. The created ABA task force mobilizes online legal guidance to pro-bono opportunities for attorneys, while addressing the inquiries and needs stemming from the COVID outbreak for people who need help.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its Interim Guidance for Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) among People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness. Its updated Interim Guidance for Homeless Service Providers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) can be found here. This guidance is intended to provide key actions that local and state health departments, homelessness service systems, housing authorities, emergency planners, healthcare facilities, and homeless outreach services can take to protect people experiencing homelessness from the spread of COVID-19.
Family Promise focuses on families who are housing insecure or at risk of homelessness, especially during the given precariousness of a global pandemic. Their press release stresses how housing instability and poverty can affect a family’s susceptibility to disease, especially given a disproportionate economic impact on low-income parents who lack paid leave. Family Promise supports extended sick leave and unemployment, technological help for remote work, and abatement of evictions, utility shut-offs and foreclosures in the near term.
Funders Together mobilizes philanthropic voices to bring financial and intellectual resources to end homelessness. In response to COVID-19, they are regularly holding member calls to share information and share what is happening in communities with regard to people experiencing homelessness.
The Homeless Hub COVID-19 Wiki is a tool used to share helpful information about how your community is handling the COVID-19 pandemic alongside our homeless neighbors. Read the full welcome message here.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness emphasizes the mental health effects of panic, isolation, grief, loneliness, and financial stress during the outbreak of COVID-19. Further insight on how mental illness connects with homelessness and incarceration is also highlighted in their resource guide.
NAEH seeks to understand how the pandemic is affecting people experiencing homelessness. This study they published projects 40% of the homeless population to be infected at the peak infection rate, and those infected and homeless are twice as likely to be hospitalized, two to four times as likely to require critical care, and two to three times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the general population.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, NCHCW is standing up for former foster youth in college who are facing housing instability with their dorms and dining halls closing. They support the utilization and extension of the Chafee Foster Care Independence Act as a means for providing former foster youth in college support with room, board, and housing needs as schools and universities are closing. More information on former foster youth aging into independence and finding housing with dorms closing can be found here.
Given veterans experiencing homelessness and their susceptibility to the COVID-19 pandemic, NCHV submitted a request to Congress for the inclusion of resources directly targeted to addressing the needs of this population.
National Health Care for the Homeless Council offers resources regarding health care and public health concerns for people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 epidemic. This includes a brief explanation of why people experiencing homelessness are a high-risk group and policy recommendations for community response teams. NHCHC demands evictions and encampment sweeps are prohibited to ensure stable health and housing conditions during a pandemic.
The National Low-Income Housing Coalition leads the Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition, working to prevent housing instability and homelessness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes policy recommendations for people experiencing homelessness; protections for low-income renters with no margin for financial emergencies; and broad, long term solutions. NLIHC supports providing housing for people experiencing homelessness, a moratorium on evictions, and an emergency assistance fund to prevent eviction and stabilize housing during such crises.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence centers on the unique needs of survivors in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as home may not be safe in cases of abuse or violence. In response, their statement supports that flexible financial assistance be made available to survivors, including food, housing, and paid sick and safe days.