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Study reveals the challenges of being homeless during the COVID‑19 pandemic and recommends ways to help address isolation, mental health struggles and improved access to affordable housing
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic created significant challenges for many people around the world, ranging from health issues and financial loss to social isolation and mental health struggles. One group that was particularly hard hit was the homeless, many of whom were already grappling with many of the hardships created or exacerbated by the pandemic.
For many experiencing homelessness, the lockdowns and health scares compounded the difficulties involved in finding food, safe living arrangements and employment in the midst of a powerful pandemic that limited movement.
A new paper by researchers at Dalhousie University explored these challenges by speaking directly to people who were homeless and those who worked to help them in two Nova Scotia communities (Halifax and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality). They found that the pandemic intensified the daily struggles for those living on the fringes. Public health restrictions that limited service availability affected access to shelter and food which, in turn, disproportionately affected already vulnerable populations.
The paper makes several recommendations, including the provision of phone lines for people experiencing domestic abuse, the creation of long-term, non-market housing and access to accurate health information about the pandemic.
Dr. Jeff Karabanow, associate director of Dal’s School of Social Work, co-authored the study and is available to discuss the impacts of the pandemic on this group and how to ensure that future health or environmental crises do not leave out those who are most marginalized.
Senior Research Reporter
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