Rural and Suburban Ohio: Response to Homelessness during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Brief

Rural and Suburban Ohio: Response to Homelessness during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of housing and homelessness services as public health infrastructure. To understand how different communities across the United States adapted their homelessness responses during the pandemic to keep people safe and housed, we explored the steps taken in six places. This case study summarizes the response in rural and suburban Ohio. Because Ohio is a home rule state that grants broad authority to localities, the response was driven by individual communities. Most shelter providers implemented safety measures in existing spaces, but about a quarter used hotel rooms to create noncongregate options. The statewide planning body urged providers to focus on rapid re-housing and rental assistance to help people acquire and maintain permanent housing. Additional federal funding allowed some organizations to provide these services to people they had not previously had the resources to help, something stakeholders hope to maintain beyond the pandemic.

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