Students in Dr. David Reilly’s international relations class, in partnership with Niagara University’s Office for Mission Integration, presented their research on the effects of COVID-19 on global homelessness on Nov. 20.

Their report, which they also shared with James Claffey, representative of the Congregation of the Mission at the United Nations, identified the preconditions and precursors to homelessness from a regional perspective, and defined the regions as North America, Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Africa, the Middle East, South and East Asia, Pacific Island, and Australia. It also identified trends that became apparent when comparing pre-COVID preconditions with post-COVID preconditions and noted that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals need to include components related to the impact of COVID-19 to be effective.

Based on their research, the students drew two conclusions: that COVID-19 will increase homelessness and exacerbate systemic failures both within and across states, and that it will also provide an opportunity to learn from this experience to better prepare and respond to future pandemics. They also recommended the creation of a universal framework for how states should gather data on homelessness; the adoption of the UN Habitat Inclusive definition of homelessness; a governmental  focus on primary prevention strategies to combat homelessness in the long-run; the presentation of a comprehensive view of homelessness through the media, education, and political consensus; the revision of social welfare systems; the development of a universal definition for affordable housing; and the consideration of housing as a human right.