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    A Qualitative Exploration of Frontline Homeless Service Worker Experiences during the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Journal of Social Service Research

    Year: 2023

    Research has illustrated how homeless service organizations have adjusted policies and services during the COVID-19 pandemic and how frontline workers have taken on the work of implementing new procedures, fine-tuning service strategies, and navigating challenges. This qualitative study sought to describe how the pandemic has impacted the day-to-day service provision experiences of homeless service workers to gain insight into how the sector might prepare itself for the next COVID-19 wave, next pandemic, or other crisis. Drawing on interviews conducted with 21 frontline workers across Texas in fall of 2021, findings highlight the challenges of shifting to remote work and virtual service provision, reduced client engagement and rapport building, creating and enforcing health policies, and persistent service system disruptions. Recommendations include investing time and resources into creating more nimble work systems, moving away from paper-based processes, and making telehealth strategies a permanent part of homeless service provision. Additionally, there are research opportunities to develop and test coworker peer support models and to study the value and viability of tele-health in this sector, including worker and client perspectives of these technologies. Findings underscore how the pandemic disrupted homeless service design and delivery, which in turn hampered service access, use, and engagement.

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