Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, we are all told to stay home and stay safe. But what happens to those who do not have homes? Under normal circumstances, there are more than half a million Americans that are homeless at any given night. Now that we’re in a public health crisis, it is this segment of the population that are at high risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 because of their living conditions. This session is the third of Daniel McDonald’s webinar series on homelessness. He’s discussed why agencies must implement Homeless Outreach Teams (HOT), the concept of Housing First, and his blueprint on how to carry out an effective approach to address homelessness in his past courses.
Daniel McDonald has been in law enforcement and corrections for 26 years. His most noteworthy role in the field is his assignment to lead the initiative to address homelessness. Through his efforts, he’s provided housing for hundreds of clients and reduced homelessness significantly.
In this third part of the series, he discusses the economics of homelessness with a focus on the current COVID-19 pandemic. Specifics include:
- The Iceberg effect, the Pareto principle and the Homeless Circle of Life that provide insights on the expanse of the homelessness issue and why it is costing significant tax dollars.
- How the chronically homeless are the highest utilizers of public services and an estimate of the annual costs of homelessness.
- The tri-morbidity that the homeless typically deal with that factors into the cost of homelessness and how these put them at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
- The housing options that may be utilized to provide the homeless shelter and its estimated costs per day.
- The much bigger cost of hospitalization and medical attention if the homeless contract coronavirus because of the inability to put them into proper housing.
- How a good and effective housing model provides huge government savings and even reduce calls for service from the homeless segment.
- The Staircase Model of Ending Homelessness that opens up more barriers than solutions to homelessness and why it is no longer endorsed as a program.
- The Housing First Model: A more humane, sustainable, and affordable model that delivers cost savings and results as seen in jails and health service providers.
- Million Dollar Billy: A case study that showed the link between homelessness and criminal activity and how housing can address increasing crime rates and rising jail population.
- Guidelines on police response to homelessness amidst the current pandemic.
- Using homelessness housing options for COVID-19 response as quarantine or isolation house or as a release valve for shelters in compliance with social distancing guidelines.
Points Daniel addressed during the Q&A were on:
- Establishing the role of the homeless outreach team as separate from enforcement.
- Pet-friendly options for housing.
- Transitioning a homeless client from the outreach team to a social worker and coordination between the teams.
- Recommendations on how to best shelter the homeless who are found to be COVID-positive.
Handouts and Resources
- CDC Guidelines: Responding to the Coronavirus Disease among People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness
- Blog Post: Police and Effective Response to Homelessness
- Police One Article: Why Police Must Continue Homeless Outreach during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- “I enjoyed the insight into a topic that not many people talk about, though we touch on homeless, we rarely get into the “whys” and the “how can I help.” It was nice to look into some logistics of the situation regarding the homeless, in regards to finances, etc. I thought this was a great webinar.” — Brandon
- “The topic is one not thought of before for my community. All information is valuable.” — Patricia
- “Excellent information. Thought-provoking. I work at a shelter for women and children and serve walk-in clients who are homeless on the street. Will mention to our local police.” — Judy
- “Great topic one I personally encounter quite a few times as a Probation Officer. It is great to know how to help homeless individuals obtain temporary and or permanent shelter so that they are not recurrent visitors in the criminal justice systems and or housed in jail just because they have not a place to call home.” — Marie
- “I got a clearer understanding of a practical and implementable solution to homelessness.” — Stefanie
- “Excellent program.” — Robert