Session: Understanding the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Homeless Individuals and the Systems That Serve Them (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

145 Understanding the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Homeless Individuals and the Systems That Serve Them

Friday, January 13, 2023: 3:45 PM-5:15 PM
Camelback A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: Inequality, Poverty, and Social Welfare Policy
Symposium Organizer:
Dan Treglia, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
The coronavirus pandemic has posed an unprecedented threat to health and housing stability of low-income American renters as well as the safety of the 1.5 million Americans who experience homelessness each year. This panel includes three papers that employ complementary perspectives and methods to examine the pandemic's impacts on housing instability and homelessness as well as the experiences of people experiencing these hardships and the systems that serve them. Together, their findings inform multiple facets of policy and practice as COVID-19 persists and offer critical insights into preparation for future health crises.

Ahern, Keeley and Dinan assess the pandemic's impact on shelter entries among households with children in New York City, looking at changes in both levels of homelessness and the reasons that families seek shelter. The authors examine shelter entry trends using a pre-post study design with robust regression controls and find significant changes at the statistical and policy levels. The number of unique families applying for shelter during the first six months of the pandemic was half of those applying during the same period the prior year. Families with no shelter history, primary tenants, and eviction-eligible applicants were significantly and substantially less common among pandemic cohort applicants, while the proportion of families found eligible due to domestic violence increased.

Treglia and colleagues conducted a series of surveys with homeless service agencies across the country to illuminate how local homeless service systems adapted their services to ensure the safety of clients, as well as barriers and facilitators to their resilience. Most communities were able to develop safer non-congregate shelter arrangements for persons experiencing homelessness (PEH) and develop COVID-19 screening and testing protocols. However, a lack of interagency coordination and other bureaucratic barriers routinely impeded the effective use of federal funds to offer safer shelter facilities and limited critical COVID-19 data collection and service coordination efforts.

Tran Smith and colleagues offer extraordinary depth and context to the above papers, using qualitative methods to understand the experiences of PEH and the workers serving them. They interviewed PEH and held focus groups with service providers to assess barriers and facilitators to the implementation of COVID-19 safety protocols in shelters from staff and consumer perspectives. They find that contradictions within safety protocols, as well as technological barriers, competing priorities, and serious resource constraints, limited the ability of homeless service providers to maintain safety for themselves and their clients. This often led to fear and uncertainty for clients, foregone services and mitigation strategies, and increased risks of COVID-19 infection.

* noted as presenting author
Assessing Community-Level Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic Among Homeless Serving Organizations
Dan Treglia, PhD, University of Pennsylvania; Eric Rice, PhD, University of Southern California; Dennis Culhane, PhD; Joy Moses, National Alliance to End Homelessness
How Do We Keep Everyone Safe?: Client and Provider Perspectives on the Implementation and Impact of COVID-19 Safety Protocols in Los Angeles County Homeless Shelters
Bikki Tran Smith, Phd, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Howard Padwa, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles; Roya Ijadi-Maghsoodi, MD, University of California, Los Angeles; Anna Darby, MD, MPH, University of California, Los Angeles; Taylor E. Harris, PhD, Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System; Maria Patanwala, MD, University of California, Los Angeles; Lillian Gelberg, MD, University of California, Los Angeles; Ben Henwood, PhD, University of Southern California
Early Trends in NYC Families with Children Shelter Applicants during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Ryan Ahern, NYC Department of Social Services; Edith Kealey, PhD, New York City Department of Social Services; Kinsey Dinan, MA, New York City Department of Social Services
See more of: Symposia