During the COVID 19 pandemic, Connecticut worked to decompress the emergency shelter system by moving households experiencing homelessness to temporary housing options and rapidly exiting households to permanent housing. Yale University School of Medicine analysis estimates these efforts prevented 1,555 infections and significantly lowered healthcare utilization, saving an estimated $4.2M in healthcare costs. Persons experiencing homelessness in shelter faced a ~3x higher infection rate than those in non-congregate settings, and a ~6x higher rate than the general population. Without shelter decompression, approximately 56% of CT’s citizens experiencing homelessness would have contracted COVID-19 at some point during the past year, compared to approximately 9% in the general population.
The study further estimated that shelter decompression prevented an additional 1,556 secondary infections and hundreds of hospitalizations, saving an additional $4.86M in healthcare costs. The benefits of decompression extended much farther than healthcare costs, literally saving lives and the social costs that are incurred by severe illness and premature death. The findings further underscore the importance of providing households with non-congregate permanent housing options to ensure the health and safety of our most vulnerable residents both as the delta variant continues to surge and beyond this public health crisis.