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Supporting People Experiencing Homelessness

Resources and guidance documents for public health professionals supporting people experiencing homelessness

Exposure to winter weather

The Public Health Recommendations to Reduce the Impacts of Exposure to Winter Weather on People Experiencing Homelessness in British Columbia is focused on providing public health guidance to help prevent the disproportionate impacts that winter weather exposure and resulting cold related injuries have on people experiencing homelessness.

This document serves as a reference for winter weather planning within organizations that support populations at risk of severe outcomes.

It includes:
  • Populations at risk 
  • Information on cold-related injuries 
  • Public health recommendations for winter response planning
  • Suggestions for pre-season planning

Homeless encampments

The Public Health Toolkit for Encampment Responses provides resources, considerations, and principles to guide public health responses that support the health of residents in homeless or houseless encampments in B.C.  It addresses communicable disease prevention, environmental health and harm reduction.

Encampments tend to be comprised of people who would otherwise be unsheltered meaning those who stay outside in alleys, doorways, parkades, parks and vehicles or people who stay temporarily at someone else’s place and/or using homelessness shelters.

The Toolkit supports the work of public health staff such as Medical Health Officers (MHOs), Environmental Health Officers (EHOs), harm reduction coordinators, public health nurses, and other public health professionals when responding to situations and/or health hazards related to encampments. It may also be helpful for other agencies who want to understand the roles and responsibilities of public health services in encampments. 

This document provides an overview of houseless encampments in B.C., covers roles and responsibilities and considerations for public health response and provides tools and resources to guide public health responses, including:
  • Site visits
  • Safe drinking water
  • Food safety
  • Sanitation
  • Waste management
  • Extreme temperatures (heat and cold)
  • Infection prevention and control / outbreak management
  • Harm reduction
  • Supporting decampments, when they occur
  • Trauma-informed practices
  • Media/communications
The creation of this toolkit was informed by the experiences of public health professionals involved in encampments in BC between 2014 and 2019.

SOURCE: Supporting People Experiencing Homelessness ( )
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