Homeless Shelters and Services

CDC has developed recommendations for homeless service providers about how to protect their staff, clients and guests.

Things You Can Do to Prepare

  • Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies at your organization. Have supplies on hand for staff, volunteers and those you serve, such as soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol, tissues, trash baskets and disposable face masks.
  • Plan to have extra supplies on hand.
  • Ensure staff wash hands frequently and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Plan for staff and volunteer absences. Develop flexible attendance and sick-leave policies.
  • Screen staff upon arrival for temperature and COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Limit visitors to the facility.
  • Implement everyday preventive actions and provide instructions to workers about ways to prevent disease spread.
  • If possible, identify space that can be used to accommodate clients with mild respiratory symptoms and separate them from others.
  • Identify clients who could be at high risk for complications from COVID-19 (those who are older or have underlying health conditions) to ensure their needs are taken into consideration.
  • Plan for higher shelter usage during the outbreak.
  • Create a communication plan for distributing timely and accurate information during an outbreak. Identify everyone in your chain of communication (for example, staff, volunteers, key community partners and stakeholders, and clients) and establish systems for sharing information.
  • In general sleeping areas (for those who are not experiencing respiratory symptoms), ensure that beds/mats are at least three feet apart, and request that all clients sleep head-to-toe.
  • Provide access to fluids, tissues and plastic bags for the proper disposal of used tissues.
  • Ensure bathrooms and other sinks are consistently stocked with soap and drying materials for handwashing. Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol (if that is an option at your shelter) at key points within the facility, including registration desks, entrances/exits and eating areas.
  • At check-in, provide any client with respiratory symptoms (cough, fever) with a surgical mask.
  • Confine clients with mild respiratory symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection to individual rooms, if possible, and have them avoid common areas.
  • If individual rooms for sick clients are not available, consider using a large, well-ventilated room.
  • In areas where clients with respiratory illness are staying, keep beds at least six feet apart, use temporary barriers between beds (such as curtains) and request that all clients sleep head-to-toe.
  • If possible, designate a separate bathroom for sick clients with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Consider reducing cleaning frequency in bedrooms and bathrooms dedicated to ill persons to as-needed cleaning (e.g., of soiled items and surfaces) to avoid unnecessary staff contact with the ill persons.