How this new response team is helping people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak

As part of the newly formed Sacramento Homelessness COVID-19 Response Team task force, the City of Sacramento — in partnership with the County of Sacramento, Sacramento Steps Forward and Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) —  has put together an action plan designed to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness during the current public-health crisis.

“The purpose of the team is to proactively address COVID-19 affecting the homeless population, slow the spread of the virus in the homeless population and create and open new shelters to serve homeless populations impacted by the coronavirus,” said Emily Halcon, homeless services manager for the City of Sacramento.

The homelessness response team has been working for several weeks to address the needs of this vulnerable, and often high-risk, population, which faces unique challenges under the local and statewide “stay-at-home” orders.

“For people experiencing homelessness, it may be harder to meet daily needs to stay safe and healthy or to avoid COVID-19 exposure, especially for those living in congregate shelters,” Halcon said. “People experiencing homelessness have a higher risk of not being able to access reduced and limited services, and to isolate and recover from the illness.”

Here are some of the projects/actions currently underway or already completed by the response team:

  • Adding 200 beds in existing shelter programs consistent with CDC guidance for shelters.
  • Operationalizing 200 motel rooms with services in the short-term, with a goal of 800 rooms.
  • 63 trailers to be delivered to Cal Expo from the state to help isolate people with COVID-19 or those experiencing symptoms.
  • SHRA identified approximately 200 clients eligible for Housing Choice Vouchers.
  • Sanitation supplies have been delivered to 14 homeless service providers.
  • Food and medicine distribution underway for higher-risk clients.
  • The team held an initial conference call on safety protocols for homeless service providers with County Public Health.

The team also continues to explore new ways to expand shelter and program capacity in both traditional and non-traditional ways.

The Sacramento Homelessness COVID-19 Response Team’s work is evolving as this situation changes and expects its work to continue for the long term, organizers said.

Please email for additional information. Also, please see this fact sheet put together by the response team:


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