March 2020 Newsletter

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Health and Housing Equity Connection

Gilvar Consulting Services Newsletter

March 2020

This month’s topic:

COVID-19 and Homelessness: Resources and Challenges for Service Providers and Policy Makers

The studies and articles highlighted in last month’s newsletter argue for increasing policy makers’ focus on the indisputable links between homelessness and health care challenges related to chronic disease, aging, and increased risk for communicable disease transmission.  Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak has brought that need into sharp relief, as local governments and organizations serving the homeless scramble to develop strategies to prevent outbreaks in shelters and to protect the thousands of people who have compromised immune systems and no home in which they can self-quarantine, whether they live outside or in a shelter. 

This month I’m focusing completely on COVID-19 and recommending a one-stop webpage, which links to numerous resources, including prevention guidelines specifically developed by federal and local agencies for working with sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations.  Created by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, this page will be updated regularly as guidelines and recommendations evolve.

I also recommend this article describing how one community hard hit by the pandemic, Seattle WA, has grappled with developing an outbreak response that accounts for major vulnerabilities common to people living homeless. 

Another great resource: On Friday March 20 12:30 -2:00 PM EST the National Health Care for the Homeless Council will sponsor a webinar in collaboration with the CDC and HUD titled Coronavirus and the Health Care for the Homeless Community: Status Updates, Available Guidance, Local Preparations, and Outstanding Issues.

Finally, I’ve included an advocacy letter that powerfully and succinctly calls on Washington state officials to take special action for people living homeless as part of their overall COVID-19 response.  This letter points to many of the challenges that I witnessed first-hand in representing homeless healthcare providers, shelter operators, and other homeless services agencies within Incident Command structures created to respond to hurricane evacuations and communicable disease outbreaks.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as those who have already been infected.  Please follow the ever-evolving guidelines and directives from local, state, and federal Public Health officials and stay healthy.

Be well,

John

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