HUD and HHS to Expand Access to COVID-19 Vaccinations
HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge and U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra recently announced a joint-agency effort to increase access to COVID-19 prevention and treatment services, including testing and vaccines, among disproportionately affected communities, including among HUD-assisted households and people experiencing homelessness.
Both HUD and HHS plan to work together to physically go into communities to assist in boosting vaccination numbers and alleviating any hesitancy surrounding getting the vaccine. The departments estimate the joint effort will extend to more than 6,000 multifamily housing properties; 6,700 homeless shelters; and about 7,500 public housing properties across the U.S.
Facilitating Access to Vaccines and Testing
HUD and HHS are directing all community health centers to establish or expand existing partnerships with local HUD grantees and program participants, including single- and multi-family housing owners/managers, public housing authorities, Continuums of Care, and homeless providers.
HUD and HHS have laid out several steps and strategies the agencies will direct community health centers, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Area Agencies on Aging, Centers for Independent Living, state Assistive Technology Act programs, and HUD grantees and programs to take to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines and testing:
- Conducting targeted outreach regarding COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and safety to encourage all eligible individuals to obtain COVID-19 tests and vaccines;
- Assisting with registering and scheduling COVID-19 tests and vaccine appointments;
- Facilitating on-site vaccine clinics at HUD-assisted or insured properties, public housing developments, homeless shelters, and through mobile facilities serving people experiencing unsheltered homelessness;
- Using state assistive technology accessibility kits to provide accessible testing and vaccination sites;
- Assisting with transportation as needed to vaccine sites, including for people who have limited mobility;
- Supporting self, mobile, drive-up, and/or walk-up testing that addresses the unique and evolving access barriers experienced by disproportionately affected populations;
- Providing information regarding access to comprehensive primary health care services; and
- Ensuring that communications are provided in plain language and in formats that are accessible to people with disabilities.
Highly Targeted Efforts
As part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to an equitable response to COVID-19, the HUD-HHS effort recognizes that bringing vaccinations to all Americans means adding highly targeted efforts focused on vulnerable communities alongside mass vaccination efforts for the general public. As part of these efforts:
- HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will track data on the number of people experiencing homelessness and in HUD-assisted housing being vaccinated.
- HUD will track the number of vaccine clinics for HUD-assisted households via its Office of Field Policy and Management (FPM).
- HUD will use a newly developed mapping tool to help broker partnerships between health centers and HUD housing and homelessness programs.
- HUD will use the mapping tool to identify high-need areas where COVID-19 rates are high and where there are large distances between HUD programs and health centers.