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Insights from the Field

This blog represents an ongoing series of perspectives on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people without homes. In addition to the articles below, you can find more information about novel coronavirus and homeless populations in our COVID-19 resources.

For questions or feedback, please contact Terri Woodmore, Communications Manager.

Racial Justice During Crises: COVID will show you whether it’s a priority

By Michael Durham | May 20

In college I waited tables at a fine dining restaurant. Our owner was one of these angry-chef caricatures: a tall, white man who leaned into his intimidating persona and yelled at staff during busy shifts. People who had worked there longer than me assured me that he was really a nice guy when he’s not working. I remember thinking in reaction that how you behave in times of stress is a better test of character than when you’re at leisure….

Telling Our Story to the Nation and the World

By Dott Freeman and Rick Brown | April 22

Effective communications—telling the story of the Council family—drives impact by sharing the right message at the right time through the right channel to the right readers and listeners. Staying connected with the nation and the world is key to the Council’s leadership as the voice of professionals working at the nexus of health care and homelessness…

Uncoloring the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Bobby Watts  | April 16

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. With parts of the world and the U.S. under stay-at-home orders, and large segments of the world economy shut down, we see that the epidemic is not distributed evenly among all racial and ethnic groups. Overall, African-Americans are more likely to be infected, to be hospitalized, and 2.3 times more likely to die from COVID than the general population. In Chicago, 67% of deaths are among African-Americans though they only comprise 29% of the population. In Wisconsin, 42% of deaths are among African-Americans which comprise only 8% of the population…

The Vantage Point of HCH Technical Assistance During COVID-19 (April 8)

By Michael Durham  | April 8

In an average program year, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council provides technical assistance (educational resources, consultation, connections, encouragement, etc.) on at least 200 distinct topics ranging from safety in street outreach to categorizing shelter status in federal reports. In the last three weeks, just one topic has dominated our inquiries: COVID-19. The Council and its members are uniquely positioned to respond to disease outbreaks in the homeless population because the crisis situates precisely where our mission resides—the nexus of health care and homelessness. We are ready to meet this crisis with the competency and values it demands…

Crisis and Innovation: Medical Respite Care Providers Respond to Novel Coronavirus (March 25)

By Julia Dobbins  | March 25

As HCH providers across the country work diligently to prepare for the spread of COVID-19, medical respite programs find themselves in a unique position. The purpose of medical respite care is to provide short-term residential care for people experiencing homelessness who are too ill or frail to recover from illness on the streets or in shelter, but who are not sick enough to require hospitalization. In the wake of this pandemic, medical respite programs are reassessing their policies, procedures, and practices so they can expand their capacity and support the stressed hospital system even more than they already do.

More Than Just a Health Crisis: COVID-19 & Consumers (March 25)

By Katherine Cavanaugh | March 25

People experiencing homelessness survive on the streets with the help of community support. The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted this support, and people are struggling to meet their needs, particularly while businesses are shut down. Restaurants where people could use the bathroom or shower are now closed, libraries where people access the internet and complete the tasks they need to get stable aren’t open, and many communities are struggling to provide food in ways that are safe and accessible. Communities must consider the needs of people experiencing homelessness and find ways to meet them during this crisis…

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