Local Homeless Service Providers Prepare For Winter Months Amid COVID-19 Surge

Nov 23, 2020

Back in May, Elkhart Central High School was used as an isolation facility for the homeless and others in need during the pandemic. Now, housing facilities are designating isolation spaces for their residents.
Credit JENNIFER TOBEY / ELKHART COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

As temperatures drop and COVID-19 continues to surge, some local homeless service providers are preparing for an influx of residents. 

Hope Ministries in South Bend began accepting weather amnesty residents earlier this month. Director of Operations John Brown said that, currently, no one with a fever is allowed into the building.

But, as the weather gets worse, he said his facility will set up a temporary isolation space and network with other service providers to care for potentially infected residents.

“So we can quarantine them for a night, and then hopefully the next morning, there’s a place that they’ll be able to go to to get the additional services they’ll need as far as the COVID-19 is concerned,” Brown said.

Faith Mission in Elkhart has also established quarantine spaces – both for individuals who have tested positive, and those who are waiting for their test results back. Assistant Director of Operations Ray Collins said the Faith Mission is doing twice-daily temperature checks, as well.

He said that while staff can keep residents safe inside the shelter, they’ll still face risks in the community at large.

“A majority of our people are out working, so until the county closes the community down, there’s not much we can do as far as telling our residents that they can’t go to work,” Collins said.

At the most recent Board of Health meeting on Nov. 18, St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer Mark Fox said the state has also established a district-wide isolation center in Valparaiso for homeless individuals. He said to his knowledge, no one in the county had used that service yet.

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo

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