- People experiencing homelessness are twice as likely to be hospitalized during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from researchers at University of Pennsylvania, University of California Los Angeles and Boston University.
- The vulnerable group is also up to four times as likely to need critical care and up to three times as likely to die compared to the general population.
- The report concludes that $11.5 billion is required to ensure people experiencing homelessness are protected during the pandemic.
The funding recommendation comes as Congress reaches an agreement on its emergency spending bill to stimulate the economy and protect vulnerable groups like people experiencing homelessness.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a severe and emergent health crisis for the homeless population across the United States, a crisis that our shelter and health systems are simply not adequately prepared to meet," the report reads. The virus is likely to "wreak havoc on this already highly vulnerable group."
Homeless populations are more at-risk than the general population due to underlying health conditions and many individuals who are more than 60-years-old, according to the study.
The report authors recommend an additional 400,000 shelter beds to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19, which include 100,000 beds to enable social distancing within shelters and 300,000 beds to be used for people experiencing homelessness who live unsheltered.
For the 500,000 single adults who experience homeless on a given night, the pandemic is projected to cause up to 21,000 hospitalizations and 3,400 deaths. But by creating adequate shelter, lives can be saved, the report writes.
City leaders across the country are grappling with how to best help people experiencing homelessness amid a pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently urged cities not to "sweep" homeless encampments, which can further spread the disease throughout the community.
On March 23, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that $100 million in emergency grants will be distributed to cities and counties in the state to secure hotels for housing people experiencing homelessness. And on March 18, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city's transportation department would deliver 6,000 beds, provided by the Red Cross, to 42 recreation centers across the country.
And in smaller cities like New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration is helping to secure housing for people experiencing homelessness by moving individuals from crowded encampments to hotels or to a state park, WWT.com reports.
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