Widening the Doors of Hope: Addressing Coronavirus-Related Challenges Among Homeless Service Providers

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Widening the Doors of Hope: Addressing Coronavirus-Related Challenges Among Homeless Service Providers explores the coping strategies and innovations that providers are adopting to withstand the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. It is the second in a series of reports on homelessness.

Among the findings of the report:

  • More than six months into the pandemic, it is clear that homeless service providers in Salt Lake County are staying agile and exploring opportunities to improve their operations and services in the community.
  • A majority of providers are reporting that they are keeping their doors open, but doing so through health safety protocols and hybrid forms blending in-person with phone/online services.
  • The most effective management-related mitigation strategies include participating in periodic Salt Lake County COVID-19 coordination calls, creating internal pandemic response teams, and collaborative efforts with other cross-sector agencies.
  • The most effective staff-focused mitigation strategies are working remotely and implementing health safety protocols. All providers indicated that they had adopted remote working policies, and four out of five providers found these remote work policies very effective.
  • The most effective client-centered mitigation strategies are related to making changes to client programming and (as with staff-focused strategies) implementing health safety protocols.
  • Three-quarters of the survey respondents indicated that the pandemic had forced them to engage in innovative practices in order to cope and withstand the effects of the pandemic.
  • In terms of administrative innovations, these include modifying the intake process from serving a single client at a time to grouping clients into cohorts, ensuring that they meet health safety protocols and then transition­ing them together into receiving services.
  • In terms of technological innovations, many providers have employed telehealth and video conferencing.

The first report in the series is available here: Keeping Open the Doors of Hope: How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Affecting Homeless Services in Salt Lake County.

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