Homelessness During COVID-19
The Shelter in Place order applies to those with and without housing. These are challenging times for all and our collective resolve to help those without shelter during this difficult time is even greater.
Unfortunately, one of the hard truths is that some in the homeless community do not accept shelter and services when offered. The reasons for not accepting services are many and, even in times like this when additional housing options are made available, a small portion of the homeless community is resistant to shelter and services.COVID-19 has not changed that, and in some cases, it's heightened fears of accepting assistance.
The last official count of San Bruno's unsheltered population revealed a total of 12 individuals sleeping on our streets or in vehicles. While this number fluctuates, at present, there does not appear to have been a significant expansion in our daily homeless population. However, some parts of the community are facing additional impacts from homelessness during the Shelter in Place order.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and San Mateo County are encouraging communities to avoid enforcement actions on homeless encampments at this time.
In addition, CDC interim guidelines on homelessness for COVID-19 suggests that removing encampments may create more risk to public health than it resolves. The CDC advises that clearing encampments can cause individuals to disperse throughout the community, thereby increasing the potential for infectious disease spread.
Partnering with Organizations
Due to the potential for COVID-19 spread, the CDC encourages communities to partner with organizations that can provide housing resources, behavioral health services, and nutrition services to encourage those that are willing to accept these services to move towards community assimilation. San Bruno has done just that. City staff and our homeless outreach coordinator, LifeMoves, are continuing to offer services and shelter during this public health crisis.
Additionally, to address the accumulation of belongings and trash at encampments during the Shelter in Place order, the City has stepped up efforts to empty public trash cans and reduce debris in and around homeless encampments. You can report an area needing attention to San Bruno Responds. The public should know that the removal of some debris at encampments may not be immediately successful, as the City must give members of the encampment proper notice to collect and separate their belongings from the items that will be disposed of.