Cities Addressing Homelessness During COVID-19

As part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Local Response Initiative, we are offering cities resources to use during the crisis as they work to protect their most vulnerable populations, particularly people experiencing homelessness.

As COVID-19 infections spread at different rates across the U.S., varying practices serving homeless populations have emerged as governments and non-profit organizations continually learn more about the disease, share knowledge and resources, and issue recommendations.

Below, you can download guidance documents and resources that address the different factors cities must consider as they assist their at-risk populations during COVID-19. Our objective is to support cities by sharing evolving challenges seen around the world, identifying emerging strategies and solutions, creating peer sharing opportunities, and encouraging long term planning.

We will continue to update our resources and share best practices to help drive impact for residents.

To provide feedback, contribute to the documents, or highlight additional needs for future webinars, please complete our feedback form.


Bloomberg Philanthropies offered a three-part webinar series presenting challenges cities encounter, approaches to consider, and opportunities cities may discover in addressing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinars featured operational leaders in the field from cities across the U.S. and world and provided a platform for participants to interact, ask questions, and discuss solutions. The series was facilitated by former New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Linda Gibbs, who is now Principal for Social Services at Bloomberg Associates.

1. How Homeless Services Have Been Impacted in the Emergent COVID-19 Period

2. How to Proceed After the Emergent Period and Leverage Progress Towards Permanence

3. Ideas to Leverage Progress Towards Permanent Solutions

Guidance and Resources

City governments are on the frontlines of this crisis and are constantly innovating to address challenges. Our team researches and reviews promising strategies cities are using to address important issues for homeless populations during COVID-19. Each of the three guidance documents revolves around a key topic area and highlights practices implemented by cities around the world. The additional resources document contains supporting materials from cities and expert organizations that are also arranged by topic.

Guidance Documents

1. Isolation or Congregate Shelter Procurement during COVID-19

Strategies for reorganizing the shelter system to maintain and/or create healthy and appropriate living environments for individuals and families in need

2. Supporting Staff During COVID-19

Policies and practices for ensuring a healthy, motivated, and engaged essential staff to implement the city’s homeless strategy during the crisis

3. Encouraging Safe Outreach to the Unsheltered

Important considerations for developing protocols and training outreach workers to monitor encampments and sites effectively, communicate social distancing guidelines, and provide supportive services as needed

Additional Resources


COVID-19 and the homeless: How cities can turn temporary measures into permanent gains