COVID-19 Homelessness & Congregate Settings
Protecting Against COVID-19
Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D., MPH, strongly recommends that Ohioans are aware of the following work being done to address Ohioans who have unique living situations, including those who rely on homeless shelters or domestic shelters, those who with developmental disabilities or severe and persistent mental illness who live in group homes, and those individuals living in recovery houses.
- As part of the Philanthropy Strike Force, we have created a Homelessness Team dedicated to this specific work each day.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines about homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters. The Homelessness Team is customizing these guidelines for Ohio’s local use.
- The Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio, the Ohio Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Ohio Recovery Housing are helping work through what is needed on the front lines.
- This team is working to incorporate the needs of our neighbors living in homelessness or with an addiction or mental health condition into state planning for access to healthcare through community health centers and planning for quarantine or isolation.
- Shelters aren’t built for social distancing, so many communities are finding alternates to shelter or spreading out to other locations. Local communities have been asked to include homeless shelters in planning to more support these Ohioans.
- The Ohio Housing Financing Agency Board has approved $5 million in unrestricted Agency General Fund Reserves to be used for Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing funds and Emergency Rental Assistance that will be distributed through the state’s nine Continua of Care.
- The Ohio Development Services Agency has established the Emergency Shelter Gap Funding Program, a $1 million effort to support emergency shelter providers during the COVID-19 state of emergency. Community development block grant dollars will be reallocated to emergency shelter providers to meet immediate needs for homeless individuals and households.
- The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OMHAS) is directing some federal opioid response funding to help people living in recovery housing or engaged in treatment to maintain their current housing and prevent homelessness.
- OMHAS is also deploying some federal funds to cover additional expenses that adult care facilities are taking on because of COVID-19.
- Ohioans can send an email to COVID19Housing@ohio.mha.gov with questions related to these issues.
For answers to your COVID-19 questions, call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).
If you or a loved one are experiencing anxiety related to the coronavirus pandemic, help is available. Call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 (1-800-846-8517 TTY); connect with a trained counselor through the Ohio Crisis Text Line by texting the keyword “4HOPE” to 741 741; or call the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services help line at 1-877-275-6364 to find resources in your community.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Interim Guidance for Homeless Service Providers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-shelters/plan-prepare-respond.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Interim Guidance for Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 among People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/unsheltered-homelessness.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fcommunity%2Fhomeless-shelters%2Funsheltered-homelessness.html
National Center for Homeless Education: https://nche.ed.gov/covid-19-coronavirus-information/
United States Housing and Urban Development – COVID-19 Information and Resources: https://www.hud.gov/coronavirus
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness – COVID-19: https://www.usich.gov/covid-19
State of California – Recommended Strategic Approaches for COVID-19 Response for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/CDPH%20Document%20Library/COVID-19/Protocols-Homeless-Pop.pdf
Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio: https://cohhio.org/boscoc/covid19/
Columbus and Franklin County Public Health’s Interim Guidance on COVID-19 for Homeless Service Providers: https://66381bb28b9f956a91e2-e08000a6fb874088c6b1d3b8bebbb337.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files-ColsFC-Public-HealthCSB-InterimGuidanceCOVID19HomelessServiceProviders3162020FINAL.pdf
Ohio Domestic Violence Network Interim Guidance for DV Programs: https://odvn-f5.worldsecuresystems.com/homepage/FINAL%20ODVN%20Coronavirus%20DV%20guidance%2003222020%20(1).pdf
Ohio Recovering Housing – Information and Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.ohiorecoveryhousing.org/covid-19-information
Show Me - a Communication Tool for Emergency Shelters: https://www.mass.gov/doc/show-me-a-communication-tool-for-emergency-shelters/download
- Stay home when you are sick
- Avoid contact with people who are sick
- Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals
- Wash hands often with water and soap (20 seconds or longer)
- Dry hands with a clean towel or air dry your hands
- Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands or after touching surfaces
- Clean and disinfect "High-Touch" surfaces often
- Call before visiting your doctor
- Practice good hygiene habits