DAVE ROSS

UW researchers see ‘compelling’ results from bringing homeless into hotels

Oct 12, 2020, 12:31 PM
Homeless coronavirus...
King County has been working to keep its homeless population safe from coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

At the start of Seattle’s COVID crisis, there were concerns about the spread of the virus at homeless shelters. In order to mitigate that, King County officials moved a cross-section of the region’s homeless population into hotel rooms, and the results were more than researchers could have ever hoped for.

King County reducing shelter concentrations, moving people to hotels

Rachel Fyall and Gregg Colburn, both professors with the University of Washington, helped conduct a study to figure out the large-scale effect of being in a hotel versus nightly shelters. What they found was that the stability of a hotel afforded benefits, regardless of whether there was a pandemic to worry about.

“What this setting allowed them to do is start to think — instead of just, how am I going to get through today, I’m going to start thinking about what my life looks like a month, or six months, or a year from now,” Colburn told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.

That saw across-the-board improvements to the lives of those who were brought into hotels. Participants were shaving and showering regularly, getting three meals a day, and were more frequently attending medical appointments.

The downstream effect is that without having to worry about day-to-day survival, their attention could instead turn toward improving their respective situations long-term.

“When you’re living in crisis — which, you know, emergency shelters are named emergency shelters for reason, it is an emergency — when you remove the emergency, when you remove the crisis, people start to say, ‘I want to pursue a degree. I want to get a job. I want to find my housing,'” Colburn described.

Additionally, researchers found that there was a “significant” decrease in 911 calls compared to the frequency typically seen at standard overnight shelters.

King County works to prevent spread of coronavirus among homeless

“Conflict is somewhat common in a shelter setting because people are in crisis and they’re very close to one another,” Colburn said. “And so people repeatedly in the interview said, ‘It was really nice if I was somehow having an issue with another person, I could just go up to my room, close my door and relax a bit,’ and that deescalated situations.”

And while these findings were conducted within a relatively short time frame, there’s still optimism surrounding what it could mean for the post-pandemic future.

“Those who work in the shelter system have been saying for years, we need to think of something better because this is suboptimal,” Colburn noted. “And so I’m not grateful for this crisis at all, but I am grateful for the opportunity to demonstrate some pretty compelling findings.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

balloon...
Dave Ross

Ross: Chinese balloon shot down was ripe for counter-surveillance

What I can say is that if I were in charge of monitoring China, I’d be tracking every Chinese balloon from the moment it broke 1000 feet
1 day ago
ChatGPT...
Michael Simeona

Watch Dave Ross try to outsmart his new AI friend ChatGPT

If you've listened to Dave Ross these past few months, you know his fascination with the new AI tool called ChatGPT.
2 days ago
balloon...
Dave Ross

Ross: Was it a Chinese spy balloon, or luxury space travel prototype?

The defense department says it has been tracking a huge Chinese balloon over Montana
4 days ago
police...
Dave Ross

Ross: ‘Police used as substitute for properly funding social services’

The reason we keep seeing abuses like the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. It’s rooted in American culture.
5 days ago
millenials...
Dave Ross

Ross: More millennials need their parents help, but for how much longer

Dave was shocked to hear about the latest statistics from Money.com on the number of millennials being subsidized by their parents.
6 days ago
morning...
Dave Ross

Ross: Morning people have the ideal lifestyle, it’s just science!

When I took this morning job, there wasn’t much competition. It was basically, "we need someone who can be here at 4:45 a.m.”
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
UW researchers see ‘compelling’ results from bringing homeless into hotels