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By Karen Nikos-Rose on May 14, 2020

This blog by Leigh Houck, UC Davis Media Relations Intern

In a recent brief published by The Center for Poverty Research at UC Davis, UC Davis Assistant Professor of Sociology Ryan Finnigan examines the effects of the pandemic on people experiencing homelessness. Finnigan writes that with outbreaks of the novel coronavirus occurring in homeless shelters across the US, significant investment is needed urgently to protect this vulnerable group. 

Finnigan says that people experiencing homelessness are especially susceptible to both the virus and the disease it can cause (COVID-19). This is due in part to the high concentration of people experiencing homelessness in urban and coastal regions with high infection rates. People experiencing homelessness also have a heightened vulnerability to COVID-19 due to higher rates of other health conditions and inadequate access to health care, sanitation services, and physical distancing than the general population. 

Finnigan urges action: expanded shelter capacity, sanitation services for tent encampments, and/or private hotel rooms. However, providing adequate shelter space for the population experiencing homelessness while following CDC guidance for physical distancing could cost an additional $11.5 billion.

Read the full policy brief,  “Greater Resources Required to Protect People Experiencing Homelessness from COVID-19”, here