Housing status and COVID-19 prevention recommendations among people who use drugs

Housing conditions can increase health risks for people who use opioids (PWUO). Little research documents the influence of housing on PWUO’s ability to practice disease prevention methods. This study examines associations between housing status of PWUO in NYC and their ability to practice COVID-19 prevention recommendations during the initial wave of the pandemic. Participants were recruited via convenience sampling and administered a survey. Eligibility required age >=18 years, using opioids >=3 times in the prior 30 days, and accessing a health-related service in the prior year. Descriptive and bivariate statistics assessed relationships between housing and the ability to practice social distancing, access soap and running water or hand sanitizer (soap), and access face masks. Multivariable Poisson regression was used to examine relationships between housing and the potential to practice COVID-19 prevention recommendations. The 329 participants were grouped into stable housing (34.3%), unstable/shelter housing (31.9%), and street homeless (33.7%) categories. Street homeless PWUO were significantly less likely to have access to soap and face masks than those stably housed. There were no significant differences between PWUO experiencing unstable and stable housing. PWUO experiencing street homelessness may have had increased vulnerability to COVID-19. Providing low-threshold health-related resources and increasing linkages to housing opportunities could promote health of PWUO experiencing street homelessness during future emergencies.

Download PDF

Full citation:
Zaidi I, Jordan AE, Jessell L, Dominguez LG, Harocopos A, Nolan M (2023).
Housing status and COVID-19 prevention recommendations among people who use drugs
COVID, 3 (10), 1612-1621. doi: 10.3390/covid3100110.