County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said Thursday that his office provided $575,000 to purchase partitions, air-flow devices and other protective equipment to prevent COVID-19 from spreading at homeless shelters and interim housing facilities.
The county’s Department of Health Services’ Housing for Health Division will use the supervisor’s grant to help shelters and interim housing facilities make immediate modifications to sites within Ridley-Thomas’ Supervisor District 2 to protect the health and safety of both residents and staff.
“People who have been living outdoors, exposed to the elements and without access to basic necessities for possibly years on end are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Turning shelters into an extra-safe haven during the pandemic will protect not only our homeless neighbors but also the heroic street outreach teams and others who work with them, as well as the general public.”
The Housing for Health Division has led the testing surveillance strategy for people experiencing homelessness in both sheltered and unsheltered environments.
Nearly two dozen temporary COVID response teams were created to do wellness checks, provide technical assistance and testing, Ridley-Thomas said. To date, more than 26,000 tests have been performed and more than 400 shelters or temporary housing units and 800 homeless encampments have been visited.
“Congregate living environments in which residents share spaces are vulnerable to the spreading of infections,” said Libby Boyce, the Housing for Health Division’s director of street-based engagement. “Improving infection control measures is the number one safeguard against COVID-19 outbreaks in shelters and interim housing sites. It is up to leadership in the homeless services community to ensure that people experiencing homelessness are as protected as possible.”
The county’s Housing for Health Division operates several hundred quarantine and isolation beds to ensure that individuals who cannot isolate in place can be safely housed while recuperating from COVID-19.
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