Coronavirus and Homelessness Resource Guide

The Alliance is holding Office Hours for homeless services programs to share the impact of COVID-19 on their daily operations and to discuss resources available to ensure staff, clients, and volunteers remain safe. Click here for more information about Office Hours and to view a shared folder of local suburban Cook County resources.  

As you are probably aware, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, named Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19, which has spread to a growing number of international locations, including the United States.

Homeless populations tend to be more vulnerable to infectious disease in general (e.g., influenza) due to their limited access to healthcare, their mobility, and poor health status. Moreover, as with any other congregate setting, there are special considerations for providers of homeless shelters to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

The attached resource guide is intended to provide useful information to providers of homeless shelters, transitional housing, and daytime support centers to prepare in the event that cases of COVID-19 are found, and to help prevent the spread of infection. We will continue to update as new resources become available. 

GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES

The Alliance encourages all providers of shelter, transitional housing, and other congregate settings to review these resources, as well as to continue to check back with the State of Illinois’ website  on the status of COVID-19 in our state and the Centers for Disease Control’s page on COVID-19 on the status of coronavirus in the United States. You should also check the Cook County Department of Public Health website for local information.

If you have questions or concerns, please call CCDPH at 708-633-4000, press 3. You may also call the Illinois Department of Public Health coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV.

Please Support our Agencies as they scramble to meet the need of people experiencing homelessness in the midst of COVID-19. Go to www.suburbancook.org/support for more information and links to agencies.

Summary of National Resources

HUD posted the following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and Technical Assistance (TA) materials on the HUD Exchange Disease Risks and Homelessness Page:

Families and individuals experiencing homelessness are more vulnerable to infectious diseases due to lack of access to primary care, mobility, and poor health status from extended episodes of homelessness. HUD strongly encourages Continuums of Care (CoCs) to contact local public health departments, Healthcare for the Homeless agencies, and other local health partners to ensure the unique needs and opportunities related to the homeless service system are incorporated. CoCs can take steps now to develop preparedness and response plans to protect against infection.

Additional Resources

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Infectious Disease Toolkits

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has published a set of infectious disease toolkits for homeless services providers, including a toolkit for providers of shelter. This toolkit outlines specific important steps that shelters can take such as implementing preventive sanitation measures, using a cough alert policy to identify potential respiratory illnesses early, health screening questions and protocols, tips on implementing an isolation practice, tips on when to bring residents to hospitals or clinics and readmit them to shelter, and information on staff training.

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council’s Coronavirus Resource Page

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council has compiled a set of useful resources on COVID-19, along with their guide to helping treat and prevent the spread of pandemic influenza.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness Coronavirus Blog

The National Alliance to End Homelessness has published a blog on COVID-19.

In addition to these resources, shelters and other homeless services providers should continue to take everyday preventative measures to help stop the spread of germs that cause all illnesses, including flu and coronavirus:

  • Ensure that staff and residents wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Encourage staff and residents to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Make sure tissues are available, and encourage staff and residents to cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Staff should stay home when they are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The Alliance will continue to provide updates and additional resources as needed on coronavirus (COVID-19) to our members and providers of homeless services. Thank you for all that you do every day to ensure the health and wellness of people experiencing homelessness!