Homeless Planning & Support Services

People experiencing homelessness face unique challenges in the event of a pandemic.  Many who are homeless already have compromised health.  Additionally, many have no choice but to congregate in settings for sleeping, eating meals or getting out of the elements.  This makes for an ideal environment in which to transmit the disease from one person to another.  Here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about possible pandemic planning within your specific community.
  • Expect your workforce to be impacted
    • Health experts estimate that 15-35% of the workforce will be unable to work because of illness, fear of contracting illness or caring for their own families that have become ill.
  • Increase attention about having clean hands
    • Have sanitizer readily available throughout any facility.
  • Clients may not have access to medications
    • Access to and supply chains of medication can be interrupted during a pandemic.
  • Map out locations of encampments
    • Bring together outreach workers, law enforcement and other critical staff to develop a comprehensive map of where unsheltered people are living.  This information may end up being critical in testing and tracking people impacted by the illness.
  • Changes in protocols and practices
    • Restrictions may need to be relaxed in order to allow more people to gain access to services.  Things, like the way clients line-up for services, may need to be altered.
A complete summary of possible pandemic planning can be found in the following link:  Pandemic Planning Guide
A complete summary guide for supportive housing providers can be found in the following link: Supportive Housing Guide
For interim guidance for homeless service providers to plan and respond to COVID-19: Interim

Preventative Measures

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Take everyday preventive actions
  • Clean your hands often
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
  • Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
  • Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)
  • Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.

Stats & Resources

United States:

  • CDC keeps updated count and info on website


  • DSHS keeps updated count on website

Tarrant County:

Homeless Resources

Other Links & Resources

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) posted information on disease risks and prevention on HUDExchange.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a Coronavirus (COVID-19) informational website and specific guidance for homeless shelters.