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COVID-19 Impact on the Health of the Unsheltered

20 Oct 2021 5:27 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)


[American Public Health Association]



People experiencing unsheltered homelessness — such as those sleeping in parks and vehicles, or on streets — were at higher risk of physical and mental health issues than their sheltered counterparts. (see Reference #1)

1 in 3 individuals experiencing homelessness is unsheltered.

The overall rate of homelessness grew from 2018-2019, due to an increase in the unsheltered population, particularly through growth in these groups. 

28% Native American
10% gender non-conforming
10% Black
12% female
43% transgender


Those experiencing unsheltered homelessness are at high risk of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality because they are less connected to health care and other support systems and more likely to have other health conditions. And, the groups that have increased the unsheltered population also represent those most at risk of negative health consequences of COVID-19. Despite increased risk, the true impact of the pandemic on the unsheltered is unknown, due to extremely limited data. 

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