RV trailers operated by PHS to provide temporary quarantine stays

PHS Community Services Society is equipping two self-contained RV trailers to provide safe spaces for temporarily COVID-19 isolations.

The innovative pilot project enables people living in homeless camps, shelters or SROs with shared bathrooms to isolate while waiting for COVID test results or for admission into another isolation site.

The project responds to a gap in services – homeless people are currently able to isolate in hotels under Vancouver Coastal Health supervision following a COVID-19 diagnosis, but there’s nothing in place for folks who need to isolate while awaiting test results.

And that caused a Catch-22: it can take two days to receive a diagnosis, during which time individuals are required to isolate from the wider community – yet people without homes have almost no means of isolating. It’s possible to carve out isolation space in homeless shelters, but space is already in horribly short supply in shelters. Creating isolation areas in shelters reduces the number of people who can be in the space and leaves people in need without shelter.

Self-contained RV units are a solution to this dilemma.

People using the RVs will receive round-the-clock support from PHS staff who will provide food and any other supplies to support individuals for successful isolation, and mitigate adverse drug reactions. PHS is partnering with other community agencies, public health, clinics and pharmacies to ensure access to prescription medications, including safe supply of medical alternatives to toxic street drugs to ensure that the medical needs of people isolating are met.

Starting late January, this project is being piloted with two vehicles at separate sites. More trailers will be activated once the initial rollout is accomplished.

Once the pandemic is over, the trailers will continue in a similar role, providing short-term respite care to homeless people recuperating from minor illnesses.

PHS has been responding to COVID in various ways, working with Vancouver Coastal Health, B.C. Housing, the City of Vancouver and other community partners to allow people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to isolate. The RVs are an important addition to the continuum of isolation services.

PHS would like to acknowledge Lu’Ma and the Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy program for the grant opportunity to further innovate homelessness responses during the pandemic.