Study Finds that Non-Congregate Shelters Make Homeless Individuals Feel Safer During COVID-19

Date Published: 
June 15th, 2022

The Terner Center for Housing Innovation released a report exploring how shelter use and perceived safety for individuals experiencing homelessness shifted during the pandemic. Through surveys of 287 homeless individuals in Sacramento between September – October 2021, researchers found that people felt much safer in shelters than in unsheltered situations, with unsheltered LGBTQ people and women feeling especially unsafe. About one in six people said they had avoided shelters due to concerns about COVID-19, which often pushed them into sleeping situations they viewed as unsafe. This study also explored benefits of non-congregate shelter options like California’s Project Roomkey and Homekey, which used vacant hotel and motel rooms as non-congregate shelter for people experiencing homelessness and at high health risk from COVID-19. This study concludes that “compared to unsheltered homelessness and previous congregate shelter stays, hotel program residents have reported feeling safer, healthier, and better able to plan for transitioning out of homelessness.”


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