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Ensuring Safety for Our Homeless Neighbors

Felicia_Stoltz_Columbus_House_croppedSouth Park Inn CleaningKitchen_croppedSouth Park Inn Staff in PPESalvation Army

There have been many heroes revealed during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The staff of agencies serving our homeless neighbors are among them.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, agencies serving people experiencing homelessness joined with the state of Connecticut Department of Housing in a massive initiative to protect people in shelters from infection.

Since a crowded shelter can be a perfect location for passing around any contagious disease, the thrust of the initiative was to “decompress” the shelters–that is, reduce the number of people staying in them to allow for safe social distancing and isolation for those exposed to the virus.  This was accomplished by moving large numbers of people into local hotels, where shelter staff took on the responsibility of monitoring their health and providing for their other needs.  These included food, which often is not supplied by shelters–so in many cases, local soup kitchens stepped up to provide drop-and-go meals.

Moving and caring for hundreds of people around the state for several months has been a herculean task.  Shelter staff have been stretched to the limit, having to monitor temperatures and ensuring that people who are exposed or sick are properly isolated and cared for.  Staff rose to the occasion:  scrounging for PPE for themselves and their guests, working long hours, and striving to rehouse people in the community wherever possible–setting aside their own concerns about falling ill or bringing the virus home to family members.

There have been many heroes revealed during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The staff of agencies serving our homeless neighbors are among them.  We’re proud to have supported the unexpected expenses they incurred during this emergency with $60,000 in grant funding to 10 longstanding partner organizations of our foundation:

  • Columbus House (Middlesex County)
  • Mercy Housing & Shelter, Hartford
  • Middlesex YMCA, Middletown
  • New London Homeless Hospitality Center
  • New Reach, New Haven
  • Northeast Coordinated Access Network (Windham/Tolland Counties)
  • South Park Inn, Hartford
  • The Connection, Inc., Middletown
  • The Salvation Army, Waterbury
  • Women & Families Center, Meriden

Our funding supported an array of unplanned expenses, including PPE, food, staffing, cleaning supplies, thermometers, and other emergency needs.

With funding for the hotel rooms set to expire August 1, agencies all over the state have joined in a new initiative to permanently house 1,000 people by the end of September.  Dubbed “1000 Homes,” this effort is off and running with 321 people housed in the first 3 days.  This work is not easy in normal times; right now it’s incredibly difficult.  But we’ll be on our partners to get it done, because they will leave no stone unturned to help people find their way home.