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Taskforce working to protect local homeless from COVID-19

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — COVID-19 is creating an even greater need to care for those without homes in our community.

The HUD-designated regional continuum of care and the Community Partnership of the Ozarks’ Alliance to End Homelessness established a COVID-19 task force.

The goal is to develop a shelter, containment, quarantine and isolation plan for those who don’t have a home.

Specifically, for those who are hyper-vulnerable, such as people who are pregnant, have previous health conditions or have limited or no access to general health care.

The task force is implementing a two-track system of care for the homeless.

First, for those who are asymptomatic.

And second, for those are presumptive positive.

“This task force is really preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” said Michelle Garand, Vice President of the Affordable Housing and Homeless Prevention at the Community Partnership of the Ozarks, “and through that, by offering hotel rooms all the way through the end of may, even the beginning of June, we believe that we will be able to flatten the curve within our homeless population.”

In addition to cold weather shelters, the task force also established day centers and is working to expand access to other sheltering options like hotel rooms.

“People experiencing homelessness are uniquely at risk for contracting COVID-19,” said Garand. “Particularly those who are aging, who are pregnant, who have previous health conditions or have limited to no access to general health care. Prevention through containment is the key. And is our primary goal to address our current need. Homelessness on its own increases vulnerability to infection of COVID-19 and increases the likelihood that the virus will result in longer hospital stays and longer recovery times for those released from hospital care.”

The Community Partnership received $50,000 to provide 75 households with hotel stays.

Now, the task force is launching their “merciful nights” campaign to raise another $50,000 to continue this shelter and hope to recruit more hotels to offer rooms at $150 per week for four weeks.

“We developed a prioritization process, so we’re able to streamline individuals quickly into those hotel rooms,” said Garand. “However, we don’t have enough and so there are many individuals that are still unsheltered, living in the streets that need to be contained and quarantined and so for that reason we don’t have room for all homeless in our rooms right now.”

If you would like to provide support, donations can be made by mailing checks to 330 N Jefferson Ave 65806.

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