Planning and responding to the challenges of COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness

Call for papers for: Housing, Care and Support

A special issue of Housing, Care and Support

Guest edited by

Martin Whiteford, Glasgow Caledonian University

Glenn Simpson, University of Southampton


When coronavirus (COVID-19) spread across the globe in the spring of 2020, decision makers from Berlin to Boston to Brisbane mobilised to mitigate the impact of the virus on people experiencing homelessness and housing stress.  Swift and decisive action was taken on the basis that homeless people were at greater risk of contracting the virus due to health disparities (e.g. the presence of underlying conditions and comorbidities), patterns of service utilisation (e.g. reliance on congregate forms of accommodation and emergency service points) and the challenges of implementing effective mitigation measures (e.g. social distancing, self- isolation and shielding). To combat the coronavirus crisis and the homelessness crisis, the UK governments required local authorities to provide emergency accommodation to people sleeping rough, in unsafe communal settings or at imminent risk of rough sleeping. Similar policies and practices have been enacted internationally.

The spiralling effect of the outbreak has driven homelessness through job losses, dependence on informal, temporary or contingent work, and the ineffectiveness of welfare provisions. Eviction moratoriums have, thus far at least, held back the rising tide of homelessness.  At the same time, the current crisis has tracked the contours of existing fault lines of class, race and gender. Reports show that COVID-19 has increased the risk of intimate partner violence which, in turn, has been identified as a driver of women’s homelessness. People with no recourse to public funds due to their immigration status have been brought into the orbit of homelessness prevention activities, even if only temporarily, on the basis of the prevailing public health emergency. These shifting dynamics have thus transformed the way in which services for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are configured and experienced.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on people receiving and providing housing, care and support. Indeed, the pandemic has profoundly changed workplaces and the nature of work itself. Everyday practice has been characterised by physical barriers – e.g. the closure of emergency service points and the need to establish COVID-secure environments - so as to interrupt virus transmission while allowing for continuity of care.  The pandemic has also accelerated the shift to remote working.  As such, homelessness services are providing support over and above what they would do normally do. This shift in operational focus has required agility and creativity on the part of services. It has also meant that practitioners have been forced to grapple with stress and considerable uncertainty. Concomitantly, COVID-19 has opened-up a critical portal through which to reconceptualise or reimagine homelessness as a political problem with viable policy solutions.

This special issue invites papers related to COVID-19 and homelessness. We welcome research papers of 6,000 words. We also invite policy reviews, practitioner perspectives and think pieces of approximately 3,000 words. Author guidelines can be found here

Possible themes could include, but are not limited to: 

  1. Explorations of public health interventions for people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis.
  2. Explorations of the impact of COVID-19 on women’s experiences of homelessness.
  3. Accounts of service innovation and creative engagements with service users’ in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
  4. Accounts of multidisciplinary work amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
  5. Examinations of the deployment of eviction prevention and financial assistance measures during COVID-19.
  6. Examinations of the criminalisation of homelessness during lockdown measures.
  7. Reflections on the impact of COVID-19 on research with homeless people and homelessness organisations.
  8. Reflections on providing care and support to people experiencing homelessness under lockdown conditions.
  9. Reviews of local, regional and national policy measures to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  10. Considerations of the lessons of COVID-19 for policymakers and practitioners.


Deadline and Submission Details

The deadline for submissions is 30 April 2021.

The publication date of this special issue is September 2021.

To submit your research, please visit the Scholar One manuscript portal.

To view the author guidelines for this journal, please visit the journal's page.


Contact the Guest Editors:

Martin Whiteford

Glasgow Caledonian University

[email protected]


Glenn Simpson

University of Southampton

[email protected]