April 8, 2020
Across the country, homeless service providers are struggling to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to follow public health guidelines and help ensure people’s safety, some shelters are being forced to reduce services, restrict admittance, or close entirely. The loss of these critical resources puts people experiencing homelessness at an even higher risk of illness.
As of April 3, over 25 shelters have had to majorly alter services or completely close. The $12 billion for housing and homelessness included in the CARES Act is an important step forward, and one of the largest ever one-time increases in federal funding for HUD. These funds are urgently needed to meet the dire needs of people who are experiencing homelessness and will go a long way towards shoring up understaffed and under-resourced homeless service providers working to respond to tremendous new challenges. To keep the following list from growing and possibly the permanent loss of necessary resources for people experiencing homelessness, who are most vulnerable during this pandemic, we must work to ensure that these funds are allocated as quickly and effectively as possible to the communities most in need.
CASS, the state’s largest single adult shelter, has reduced its capacity from 470 to 370. CASS is actively working to find alternative shelter, including hotel rooms, to allow people to practice social distancing or isolation.
Harbor House, a smaller season shelter in the Thousand Oaks area of Ventura County, closed early on March 13. This was a rotational shelter provided by a coalition of churches in the area that is generally open from December through the end of March. Many of the volunteers who are essential for operating the shelter and meal programs are elders and at higher risk of COVID-19.
In San Francisco, the city has told shelters to stop admitting new people but has opened a new shelter in an attempt to free up additional space.
The Denver Rescue Mission had to consolidate 3 large shelters down to just 2 because of staffing and supplies. The city is discussing consolidating some shelters and opening a larger facility that would allow for greater social distancing. Many of the smaller shelters would continue operations with fewer beds.
In Pitkin County, the area homeless shelter located at a church in Aspen stopped accepting new clients in mid-March.
Thrive DC, which provides a variety of services and meals to people experiencing homelessness, suspended all operations at its service center and to all outreach sites on March 23.
Waterfront Rescue Mission in Pensacola, which has an overnight shelter for men, has limited the number of people. Nearby, Opening Doors Northwest Florida, which provides services and counseling to people experiencing homelessness, closed in late March.
Washington Street Mission in Springfield, which offers coffee, laundry and shower facilities, announced it is closing temporarily. St. John’s Breadline decided to hand out bagged lunches, instead of serving meals.
DuPagePads closed all Interim (Overnight) Housing shelter sites beginning Saturday, March 21.
The Sioux City Warming Shelter, a seasonal shelter generally open from November through the end of April, closed early due to concerns about COVID-19.
Local news media report that the Catholic Action Center in Lexington as well as many of the 100 homeless shelters across the state are closed to new clients. Some smaller, private shelters in rural areas have shut down completely.
The Portland City Manager temporarily closed the Oxford Street Shelter and family to new individuals after two people tested positive for COVID-19.
Hope House, a domestic violence shelter in the Kansas City area is not accepting any new clients.
After closing because an individual tested positive for COVID-19, Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada reopened its shelter at half-capacity.
The newest shelter in New Mexico, the Española Pathways Shelter, has closed. It had opened in a temporary space as a warming center but closed early due to public health concerns. Staff and officials plan to reopen it when their permanent space is ready.
Lockport CARES, a faith-based agency with 19 beds, has stopped admitting new clients.
Advocates report that an all-volunteer shelter in Buffalo with 29 beds closed in late March since volunteers are mostly older and couldn’t risk being exposed to the virus. Advocates also report other shelters are limiting the number people and reducing hours.
Bethany House in Rochester, a women’s shelter, is closing on Wednesday, March 25.
According to advocates on the ground, many shelters in the state are either completely stopping or severely limiting new intakes in order to reduce their shelter population to something more manageable to be able to separate people.
In Portland, a motel owner kicked out clients of a homeless service provider because he didn’t want people experiencing homelessness in his motel.
Dauphin County: Christian Churches United closed its emergency winter shelter early and will close its women’s shelter on Friday.
Shelters in the Lehigh Valley closing to newcomers.
Haven for Hope in San Antonio stopped accepting new clients but continues to provide shelter to about 1,700 people.
Advocates report a shelter in Gloucester County closed due to a lack of volunteers.
Freezing Nights, the only overnight shelter program outside of Tacoma (in that county), announced Monday it would suspend shelter services this year.
The only daytime center in East Pierce County, the New Hope Resource Center, has reduced daily hours to 12 to 3 p.m. (same source)
In the Seattle area, three homeless shelters operated by Union Gospel Mission closed on March 27, leaving 270 people quarantined inside the shelters for two weeks.
Advocates report that a domestic violence shelter in the southern part of the state closed and relocated clients.
For an updated list of closing and additional updates on COVID-19 housing and homelessness, go to: https://nlihc.org/coronavirus-and-housing-homelessness