Berkeley hotels

Study finds hotel shelters for homeless people reduce use of emergency services

A study by researchers at UC Berkeley and UCSF found that placing homeless people in hotels led to reduced use of emergency services.

According to campus researcher and study co-author Mark Fleming, the research team analyzed data tables to compare services used by homeless people in San Francisco during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fleming said homeless people who had private hotel rooms, private bathrooms and on-site health care used emergency services at a lower rate than homeless and homeless people.

Fleming hypothesized that improving conditions in hotel shelters led to better outcomes for homeless people.

“People are very likely to be more willing to stay in shelter when they have a private room, because privacy is important to everyone,” Fleming said. “Having the health services integrated into shelter-in-place hotel sites has been beneficial in enabling people to connect to care before they move to an emergency.”

Fleming said the congregate shelters offered before the pandemic imposed a greater risk of contracting COVID-19, which in turn forced San Francisco to move many people into non-congregate shelters like hotel rooms. Homeless people often have higher rates of chronic health conditions than other populations, Fleming said, leading to greater health risks and hazards from contracting COVID-19.

Fleming also speculated that the privacy of hotel shelters helped dismiss homeless people from hospitals at a faster rate than homeless people, because hotels provide a reliable and safe space upon their return.

Maria Raven, co-author and chief of emergency medicine at UCSF Medical Center, speculated that since emergency departments are open 24/7, many homeless people use these services first rather than seeking treatment elsewhere. She said when shelter is provided, it is easier for these homeless people to take care of themselves.

“What surprised me the most is that we actually saw these significant reductions in services,” Raven said. “Many studies have looked at the ability to reduce emergency department use (among homeless people), and it’s actually very difficult to demonstrate.”

Fleming said he and the team compared emergency service use among housed homeless people versus those who were not placed in a hotel.

Although there were reductions in the use of emergency services for both groups, the reduction in the hotel group was much greater than in the other groups.

“It proves that this congregation-free shelter model with on-site health care is good for their health, reduces their need for hospitalization, and that this model should be part of a larger toolkit to tackle sans. -shelter,” Fleming said.

Contact Lance Roberts at [email protected]and follow him on Twitter at @lance_roberts.