The Dallas Police Department, Office of Homeless Solutions, and city contracted vendors have jointly decided to temporarily suspend encampment resolution efforts in the month of December.
The Office of Homeless Solutions said Street Outreach teams will continue to follow all current COVID-19 protocols and procedures as they engage with individuals experiencing homelessness to provide proactive clean-up and connections to resources and shelters.
Officials will also continue to monitor, assess, and provide sanitary products to known encampment locations to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, the Office of Homeless Solutions said.
According to the Office of Homeless Solutions, there has been a surge in COVID-19 cases from individuals that are experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
The current CDC guidance for encampment service states that if individual housing options are not available, people who are living unsheltered or in encampments should be allowed to remain where they are.
Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers, increasing the potential for infectious disease spread, the CDC said.
Individuals staying in encampments are encouraged to set up their tents or sleeping quarters with at least 12 feet of space per individual.
According to the current CDC guidance, if an encampment is not able to provide sufficient space for each person, people should be allowed to remain where they are, but those with increased risk for severe illness should be linked to individual rooms or safe shelter.
The CDC also encouraged encampment service officials to work with community coalition members to improve sanitation in encampments and ensure nearby restroom facilities have functional water taps, hand hygiene materials, and bath tissue.
These restroom facilities should remain open to people experiencing homelessness 24 hours per day, the CDC said.
If toilets or hand washing facilities are not available nearby, officials should assist with providing access to portable toilets with hand washing facilities for encampments of more than 10 people. The CDC said these facilities should be equipped with hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.