How do you follow a stay-at-home order when you have no home to stay in?
It is an obvious question—and one with dire consequences for over 5,000 homeless individuals and families in Chicago—but, how do you follow a stay-at-home order when you have no home to stay in?
For those living in shelters or homeless encampments, basic safety precautions to prevent COVID-19 such as social distancing and hand hygiene are harder to achieve. Further, homeless individuals disproportionately suffer from chronic health issues, food insecurity, and exposure to the elements that increase their risks. The vast majority of the homeless population in Chicago are people of color; 75% of people experiencing homelessness in Chicago are African American.
In the midst of the crisis, Unsheltered Chicago (also known as the West Side Homeless COVID Response Group) was formed through partnerships between homeless service providers and Rush University Health Center, UI Health, Heartland Alliance Health, and Lawndale Christian Health Center. Alliance for Health Equity’s housing and health workgroup members have been leading efforts on homeless COVID-19 response across the City and County.
Elissa Bassler, CEO of Illinois Public Health Institute, led a training webinar sharing the lessons of our Alliance partners for shelters and homeless services providers across the state (below) More than 150 providers joined the webinar to learn about precautions shelters can take to help protect their residents in these unprecedented times. The webinar was presented in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).
You can view a recording of the webinar at: https://youtu.be/j2sJ4pGiZiE
“We are not on the frontlines of the COVID crisis,” Bassler noted, “but we do our part to support our partners and colleagues who are.”
Whether providing information or working behind-the-scenes to secure and distribute much needed PPE and provide cloth masks to homeless shelters and other community settings, IPHI and the Alliance for Health Equity are working together across sectors and in partnership with communities to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and find ways to improve healthcare and well-being for those of our neighbors who need it most.