COVID-19 CDC guidance on responding to people experiencing homelessness

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidance regarding steps to protect people experiencing homelessness from COVID-19.  CDC recommends partnerships across local sectors including homeless outreach teams, state and local health departments, hospitals and law enforcement.

CDC’s prevention measures are not to clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19 unless individual housing units are available because doing so increases risk of disease spread.  CDC also recommends ensuring restrooms near encampments have functioning water, hand hygiene materials and bath issue, and they remain open 24 hours per day to people experiencing homelessness.  If toilets or handwashing facilities are not available nearby, portable toilets with handwashing facilities should be brought for encampments of more than 10 people.

Persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be provided isolation housing.  Behavioral health teams should be involved in the planning for these sites to facilitate access to community support.  If they need to be hospitalized, a discharge plan should be in place.  (CDC COVID-19 Interim Guidance, March 22, 2020.)