Minnesota’s plan for COVID-19 protection for people experiencing homelessness

What do you do when the number one recommendation to prevent and protect from COVID-19 is stay at home and you don’t have a home? The Minneapolis Star Tribune looked at the issue of protection for people experiencing homelessness today with a recognition that they are double victims, “left stranded in daytime as public places close and consigned at night to crowded shelters that are prime spots for contagion to spread.”

They outlined some of the local investment and efforts…

The Hennepin County Board has approved $3 million to quarantine at-risk homeless, and officials have begun moving older homeless residents from shelters to hotels regardless of whether they’re sick.

Ramsey County will use up to $1.8 million from its general contingency account to set up two new quarantine and isolation facilities for the homeless.

Similar measures are being taken elsewhere, as alarms sound about the potentially devastating consequences of COVID-19 on the nearly 570,000 Americans without a place to live. …

Ramsey County is targeting two facilities in St. Paul to quarantine and isolate homeless people with the virus, including the recently closed Boys Totem Town facility, said Max Holdhusen, the county’s manager for housing stability. At one of the county’s three shelters, people have been allowed to stay in rooms not usually in use.

They recognized some of our worries…

As the number of cases in Minnesota again spiked Wednesday, shelters in Minneapolis reported that some homeless people were showing symptoms of the respiratory illness and being sent to hospitals, though officials said no cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed among the state’s homeless population.

Workers at shelters have expressed concern about a lack of supplies, including masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, to prevent the spread of the disease.

And the growing need for support for people…

Nearly 8,000 Minnesotans experienced homelessness in 2019, up 10% from the previous year and the highest level in five years, according to an annual count by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

They recognize how hard it is for us at Elim Church and Strong Tower Parish Shelters, as it is for everyone…

The abrupt closing of public facilities and cuts to overnight service on buses also has created an influx of new visitors to area shelters already at or near capacity. On Tuesday night, a temporary shelter operated by Elim Church in northeast Minneapolis had to turn away five people seeking a place to sleep. It was the first time that the small shelter in the church’s basement has turned anyone away since it opened in early February.

“To say to someone, ‘Hey, we don’t have the space,’ is really, really hard,” said Freddy Toran, a volunteer at the shelter. “These are people who are already not getting enough rest and have weakened immune systems.”

Published by Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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