Harm Reduction in Housing and Shelters during COVID-19

Featured Housing, Harm Reduction, Housing

COVID-19 is escalating substance use related harms particularly for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and living in poverty. People are at increased risk for more serious COVID-19 symptoms and complications. In this article, Bernie Pauly discusses why harm reduction approaches are needed in housing and shelters especially during COVID-19. 

“Harm reduction is a pragmatic approach that accepts that drug use is a reality in society and that people regardless of their choice to use or not use substances should be respected and treated with dignity and compassion. A harm reduction approach facilitates access to services and supports because providers accept people ‘where they are at’ rather than requiring sobriety or abstinence first”.

The article outlines key values and principles of a harm reduction approach which can prevent the harms of substance use and save lives during COVID-19 and beyond.

How to use this resource:

  • Build your understanding of harm reductions interventions – the strategies and practices – that can prevent the harms of substance use. 

  • Facilitate discussion about what blocks our ability to implement harm reduction?