Former USICH Directors Send Letter to Congressional Leaders Calling for Homelessness Assistance in Next Coronavirus Relief Package

Former directors of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) Fred Karnas, Barbara Poppe, Laura Zeilinger, and Matthew Doherty on August 5 sent a joint letter to congressional leaders urging them to include at least $11.5 billion for HUD’s Homeless Assistance program in the next coronavirus relief package. This funding is essential to help the overstretched homelessness system respond to the needs of people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.

The former directors cite recent research indicating that at least $11.5 billion is necessary to respond to and prevent coronavirus outbreaks among people experiencing homelessness. People experiencing homelessness cannot engage in many of the preventative measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including regular hand washing, social distancing, avoiding high-touch surfaces, and staying indoors. Moreover, people experiencing homelessness are more likely to report underlying health conditions that make the disease more dangerous. As a result, people who are homeless and contract coronavirus are twice as likely to be hospitalized, two to four times as likely to require critical care, and two to three times as likely to die than the general public.

The funding is needed to minimize the number of people living in homeless encampments and congregate shelters, to identify space – including hotel and motel rooms – for isolation and self-quarantine, and to provide short-term rental assistance and housing stabilization services. These resources are essential to ensure that people experiencing homelessness are able to remain safely sheltered throughout the duration of the pandemic and beyond.

Read the letter at: