When Crisis Meets Opportunity: Responding to COVID‑19 with integrative health and sheltering models for persons experiencing homelessness
What is the issue? COVID‑19 has disproportionately impacted individuals experiencing homelessness in Canada. In response, several regions have adopted programs that integrate non-congregate shelter (e.g., motels), with on-site health care and other supports. In addition to stopping the spread of COVID-19, these programs have shown improved outcomes when compared to the standard congregate shelter program, including reduced 911 calls, fewer overdoses, and increased permanent housing. Understanding how these programs were implemented may allow for their continuation and expansion beyond the pandemic. What is the overall goal? We will work with community partners to examine initiatives in two mid-sized Ontario cities that have adopted integrated health and non-congregate sheltering models during COVID-19. We will learn how the programs were implemented, what resources are required, and what would be needed to sustain the programs post-pandemic. We will interview program staff members (including healthcare providers, shelter workers, and administrative staff) and clients to learn about their experiences implementing the program and will examine program documentation such as meeting minutes, reports, policies and budgets to better understand the process, planning, costs and policies that are associated with the program. We will use all of the information gathered to create a guide to share with other regions interested in developing and implementing a similar model. What is the expected impact? Our project will yield an in-depth understanding of integrative health and sheltering programs developed in response to the pandemic and will learn how these programs can be successfully implemented and sustained.