Coronavirus Variants: 5 Ways Communities Can Protect People Experiencing Homelessness From COVID-19

August 17, 2021

This new guidance is intended to help communities minimize the spread and impact of the rapidly-spreading Delta variant of COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness.

It was informed by CDC guidance and developed by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC), and the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH).

It offers the following recommendations that should be implemented immediately: 

  • Encourage and support vaccinations. 
  • Strengthen routine testing, especially in congregate facilities. 
  • Continue to use COVID-specific non-congregate shelter (NCS) for people who test positive, were exposed, or are at high risk of severe illness or death. 
  • Maintain or re-institute COVID-19 mitigation protocols. 
  • Continue to rehouse as many people as possible. 

While it’s important for all homeless services staff, volunteers, and clients to get vaccinated as soon as possible, USICH stresses that being fully vaccinated should not be treated as a prerequisite to receive shelter, housing, or services; and regardless of vaccination status, all homeless services staff, volunteers, and clients should continue wearing masks and physically distancing.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides many ways to fund these recommendations. To learn how to leverage those resources, read USICH's recently-released guide to the ARP funding that impacts people experiencing homelessness.

Click to view the guidance.