Local officials to develop response for the homeless during COVID-19 outbreak

Amidst the outbreak of coronavirus in the Houston area, the Coalition for the Homeless is working hard to ensure that the homeless population is informed, and kept safe during this time.

About 3,900 people are experiencing homelessness in our area, and they are considered one of our most vulnerable populations when it comes to the spread of COVID-19. In Houston, the homeless are common at underpasses and sleeping in groups on the sidewalks at night.

The Coalition for the Homeless offers assistance during times of need, but since the outbreak began they’ve been advocating for more resources.

“The coalition has organized and activated working groups that are planning and coordinating a response, but we are stuck right now on a lack of resources," said Sara Martinez, Vice President of Development for the Coalition for the Homeless.

The coalition is working with the city and county to get the resources they need.

CORONAVIRUS FAQ: Here’s what you need to know about the COVID-19 outbreak​​​​​​​

The City of Houston issued this statement:

"The City’s Office of Emergency Management, Health Department and Public Health Authority are working with Harris County, the Coalition for the Homeless and other local agencies to develop and coordinate a regional COVID-19 response within the homeless community. From San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Baltimore, to Edmonton and Paris, we are also working closely, by sharing information and best practices, with cities around the world. Immediate concerns being addressed include acquisition and coordination of needed resources, testing sites accessible to the homeless, and a potential quarantine facility for individuals unable to self-quarantine or isolate if needed."

“Some resource gaps that we have initially identified include someplace for people living in shelters to move into so they can shelter in place, personal protective equipment, and medical cleaning and hygiene supplies, someplace for people to recover who do become infected but have nowhere to go," Martinez says.

At the moment there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases among the homeless population, but the coalition is trying to secure more tests for those experiencing symptoms.

“Right now access to testing is the same for people experiencing homelessness as it is for the general public. We are working with local officials and offices to access additional resources to make it easier for people experiencing homelessness, particularly people living unsheltered to access screening and testing as needed.”

People usually want to help out during times like this. But giving out cash to the homeless is not the best way to it since the CDC advises to limit the use of cash so as to not spread the virus. If you would like to help and stay updated with what’s happening with the homeless population visit Coalition for the Homeless' website.