The past week has delivered strong challenges to community organizations responding to homelessness, and the people enduring this pandemic without the critical stability of a home. Our community is very thankful for all the ways you've arrived to meet the needs of people who, because they live in public, cannot squarely follow the recommendations for isolation and social distancing. We also empathize with some of the difficult decisions programs must consider while serving in this context.
We have heard and understand that a broad community has been looking for more information from HOST leadership. The City and County of Denver has activated a citywide emergency response focused on identifying resources needed to assist our community's response. The following are areas that we have been focused on:
Supplemental Shelter: The City of Denver is leveraging city and partner facilities and reassigning city staff to provide locations where guests presenting symptoms (fever, shortness of breath, persistent cough) can stay 24/7 in safe, social distance from others. The first facility will open today in a recreation center and we are taking referrals coordinated by our largest shelter provider environments. We are working to scale up resources soon. We are starting this triage to support residents who are exhibiting symptoms and to provide social distance between those who are healthy and those who are exhibiting symptoms in facilities that are seeing the most people overnight. As we scale resources we will work to expand triage to other access points such as day centers.
Activated Respite: We are setting up large numbers of individual rooms that will be available to persons who need to self-quarantine while awaiting test results for COVID19 but are currently experiencing homelessness. These activated respite beds will serve residents awaiting test results. Referral to these activated respite beds will be through clinicians at our health centers throughout the city.
Procuring Critical Sanitation Supplies: The Emergency Operation Center (EOC) is working hard to help shelter organizations remain equipped with sanitation supplies to sustain shelter environments to CDC standards. Some items have been difficult and expensive to source on the market and the EOC is working to be as helpful as possible in sourcing essential supplies. EOC has received a limited inventory of supplies based on high priority needs at some of the largest facilities. In addition to these resources through EOC, community members can donate needed items at La Alma/Lincoln Park, or Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Centers. We will be reaching out with more information on how these supplies will be distributed to facilities including day shelters and other providers.
Assisting Volunteer Response: One of the largest challenges expressed by providers has been sustaining staffing levels. Our partners at Mile High United Way are coordinating a community call for volunteers, and donations of goods and funds to support community-based organizations' response. Information on that can be found here: https://unitedwaydenver.org/covid-relief/.
Beyond these focus areas, we continue to monitor critical areas of system response including our nightly transports of guests to shelter and back, food needs, and critical information needs in a quick changing scenario. We are working with the state and federal governments to procure much needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our healthcare and service providers. This procurement is in process and we will provide details as we know what we will have available for distribution.
One of the main anxieties we have heard about this new context of our work has been a desire for more information about program changes among community-based providers. We want to be a helpful source of information but do not always have immediate information on changes occurring in the community. To assist, we ask that you connect with Angie Nelson at Angela.Nelson@denvergov.org to notify of significant temporary changes to programming--particularly increase or decrease in service hours--that you will implement. We will work to keep the contacts here notified as efficiently as possible.
Thank you for all your efforts in this difficult time. Thank you for partnering with one another, with us, and most importantly with those whom we work to serve.