How COVID-19 Has Affected Homeless People, and What Can be done to Help


Photo by Ev on Unsplash

Written by Nathan Blackburn, Executive Director

Within the span of a week long spring break, the Coronavirus has ravaged the world and reached pandemic status, at a still alarming rate. People of all ages have begun practicing ‘social distancing’ and have quarantined themselves in their houses to prevent the further spread of this disease. However, the population of homeless people across the world have found themselves at a disadvantage.

Here in the US, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued new regulations and guidelines for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. As the name would imply, unsheltered homelessness refers to the people who are forced to sleep outside or under makeshift shelters. On the CDC’s website (, they describe new regulations for places that homeless people can isolate and receive care, should they begin to feel symptoms.

“State and local health departments, homelessness service systems, housing authorities, and emergency planners will need to identify where people without housing can be isolated and receive care if they are suspected to have COVID-19, are awaiting COVID-19 testing results, or are confirmed to be positive COVID-19 cases. These plans should also include transportation protocols,” says the CDC.

In addition, the CDC urges city and state officials to provide proper communication to homeless people so they continue to stay aware, as they do not have the aid of continuous broadcast news updates as people with homes would. These communications include “the most recent information about COVID-19 spread in their area, advice to avoid crowded areas if COVID-19 is circulating in their community, social distancing recommendations, and how to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do if they are sick.”

However, places such as homeless shelters are experiencing something of a crisis. In order to uphold the ‘six foot distancing’ rule that comes with social distancing, a shelter would therefore have to ‘evict’ people from staying with them, in order to not violate the now nationwide rule. As reported in “The Observer’s”, based in Texas and written by Gus Bova, article on homelessness and the Coronavirus crisis, Texas holds around 25,000 homeless people in the state alone.

With the social distancing regulation in effect, there are ways to help in quarantine. If one is able to donate, there are several websites that have opened donations specifically to groups of people, like homeless people, the elderly and industry workers who are unable to receive pay.

These resources include HOPE Atlanta, Gateway Center and Atlanta Mission. Check out each of their websites for more information. In addition, here is a link to an article by Atlanta Journal with more information about additional groups of people that have been hit hard by the Coronavirus and how you can help.

If you are able to, consider donating. If you aren’t, then help spread the word. In a time where every day seems uncertain, it’s up to us to unite as one to help those who can’t help themselves to the degree that we can.