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DHS


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Response to COVID-19

In the event of disasters, DHS is the primary agency responsible for mass care, food, emergency assistance, housing, and human services (also known as Emergency Support Function #6). For more information on the overall District Preparedness System in the event of an emergency, see the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency’s website.  

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, DHS was responsible for a significant portion of the District’s response, including:  

  • Establishing isolation and quarantine sites for anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, is waiting for test results, or is a close contact of a positive case, and cannot safely quarantine at home. The availability of hotel rooms has been critical in our strategy to quickly remove positive cases and close contacts from our low-barrier shelter system, while also meeting the quarantine needs for others in our community.  

  • Establishing the Pandemic Emergency Program for Medically Vulnerable Individuals (PEP-V), by opening hotels exclusively for medically vulnerable customers residing in congregate shelters or who were unsheltered and were at high risk for COVID-19. Eligibility criteria include anyone with a housing voucher/subsidy and who is over 45 years of age, or customers of any age who have certain underlying medical conditions that put them at highest risk. In order to complete an intake to PEP-V, please email [email protected] or call 202-262-9416. 

  • Modifying operations throughout the emergency shelter system to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and help keep unsheltered residents safe. Recognizing the high risk to individuals experiencing homelessness during the public health emergency, especially those living in congregate settings, the District developed a comprehensive strategy to keep vulnerable populations safe. To address the disparate impact on vulnerable populations, Mayor Bowser released an Executive Order outlining measures to protect those living outside, staying in shelters, and residing in supportive housing programs. See more details and information on our storyboard.   

  • Enhancing flexibility allowed in public benefit programs in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep customers safe. Please see here for more detailed information on modified program requirements. 

  • Operating a Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program which provides food benefits on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. The benefits are provided to District families with eligible children who would normally receive free or reduced-price school meals if not for virtual and hybrid learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information or to ask questions about your P-EBT benefits, click here

For more information on the District’s response to Covid-19, please see coronavirus.dc.gov.