A coalition of homeless advocates have written to the Governor and other top state officials, asking for special protections for people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The homeless are at heightened risk of being exposed to COVID-19, and the state must act quickly to ensure all our state’s residents have access to housing and public resources needed to keep people safe and healthy.
The letter, sent by the Reaching Home Campaign, can be found here. Below are a list of recommendations for the state in responding to COVID-19.
Moratorium on evictions and foreclosures – The current moratorium must be extended to cover all evictions and foreclosures, and we strongly encourage considerations for longer-term moratoriums.
Rental assistance – Emergency rental assistance will allow people experiencing homelessness to find stable housing, reducing the risk of spread for the virus.
Hospital and public health response – Shelters in the state must be added to the list of priority distribution of emergency supplies, and the state needs a clear and concrete plan for broader testing and care.
Outreach to unsheltered individuals – Those living on the street are at higher risk of untested/untreated illness. Ensuring a level of coordinated outreach and street medicine during this crisis will be critical.
Staffing support – Funding to support overtime costs, and plans in place in the event that volunteers and staff are unable to meet minimum staffing patterns.
Interagency homeless response – Currently, there is no statewide coordination for shelters and other service providers to slow the spread of COVID-19. A statewide response is needed.
Expanded shelter space – In the coming weeks, spread of COVID-19 may dramatically increase the need for shelter. Additional emergency shelter space will be needed.
Medical respite care – Many people experiencing homelessness have no options for medical care, and cannot follow the CDC’s recommendations for getting treated for the virus. The state needs to provide options for care.