Homeless shelters brace for pandemic winter


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A local taskforce made up of leaders of homeless shelters and advocates are addressing any situations that may come up due to COVID-19.

This group says folks aren’t going to be left out in the cold if a shelter has to shut down. They meet weekly and help find other shelters to place people in if has to close due to the coronavirus.

Leaders at Partners Ending Homelessness and at Catholic Family Center said at times, hotels in the county are allocated by local aid and state officials and are designated for overflow if shelters reach full capacity under COVID-19 guidelines.

MORE | Lacking capacity, House of Mercy asks Monroe County for hotel space to help those in need

And at least one is designated for isolation for those who have COVID-19 or show symptoms.

Leaders say they pre screen people before admitting them to the shelter and do daily cleaning plus deep cleaning within 24 hours if someone shows symptoms.

“If a staff or a client is identified as positive or have symptoms, we get them tested immediately and we do a tracing,” Lisa Lewis, of Housing & Stabilization Services at Catholic Family Center said.

“Just like House of Mercy, we activated the team. We decided on how many clients, actually Catholic Family Center took some of those folks that were under quarantine from House of Mercy because they had to close and then we plan with this group who like I said is a cross-section of people to help apartment, DHS , the County, impact the shelters and anybody who can know really be when I have enough space to take additional people we all work together to see who gets who and how does that occur.”

However going into the new year, there will be other challenges to tackle as well.

“There will be a big effort beginning soon on education about vaccinations.” Connie Sanderson of Partners Ending Homelessness said.

“It’s really important to be vaccinated and it’s really going to required some specific strategies because right now we have that to part vaccination particularly for homeless people that’s going to be a challenge to be able to make sure they get that second shot that they’re going to need to have a full effect of the vaccination.”

Booth Haven Men’s Shelter had to close a couple of weeks ago but is scheduled to reopen on Monday.

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