January 11, 2021
Executive Director’s Report
Housing and health have always been intimately linked– but never has that been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when key prevention measures are to stay home, wear a mask, and practice good hygiene, almost 600,000 men, women and children are experiencing homelessness. These individuals and families have no home to stay in, often don’t have access to clean masks, and regular hand washing can be a challenge.
For all of these reasons, people experiencing homelessness are at disproportionate risk of contracting COVID-19. Further, those sleeping in shelters share rooms and bathroom facilities, making it impossible to physically distance. This is also true for those who are doubled-up in houses or apartments with friends or family, sleeping on sofas or on the floor.
When individuals experiencing homelessness are infected with COVID-19, they are more likely to develop severe symptoms. A recent study conducted by researchers at the Universities of Pennsylvania, of California at Los Angeles, and Boston University found that people experiencing homelessness are twice as likely to be hospitalized, two to four times as likely to require intensive care, and two to three times as likely to die from COVID-19 than the general population.
As we continue to be greatly concerned about the pandemic’s effects on persons experiencing homelessness and our staff working with shelter guests and housing tenants, our commitment to serving our community’s most vulnerable is stronger than ever. The grant funds and donations we received in 2020 ensure we have the supplies to continually clean and sanitize the shelter and allow us to provide these items to families in our housing programs. In 2020, the Center also received three grants to assist those in need with rental and security deposit assistance and case management support through 2022. Thanks to generous community support, we are also able to provide food assistance to fill hungry bellies keeping the families we serve fed, housed and healthy throughout the duration of the pandemic.
While these are uncertain and often scary times, we continue to experience the generosity of our caring community which keeps us optimistic for the future.Throughout the remainder of this public health crisis, we ask that you keep us in your thoughts, be kind to one another, wear your mask, and wash your hands. We’ll see each other on the other side of this pandemic.
Tracy J. Pitcher, MSW
Call-to-Action: Advocate for Families in Need
At St. Paul’s Center, we believe that everyone deserves a place to call home, especially in these unprecedented times. Housing is healthcare, and if we ever hope to eliminate the spread of COVID-19, it’s imperative that we keep families housed. We need your help advocating for legislation that would protect these families throughout this public health crisis.
A Day in the Life: Davida Cancer, Housing Stability Advocate
With the launch of our new Lee Dyer Family Apartments Program, we’ve brought Davida Cancer on staff to provide support and case management services to all participating parents and youth. In her new role, Davida has quickly learned just how important these services can be for a family working to build a sustainable future free from homelessness. In this series, we document a day in the life of staff members like Davida to share what a typical workday might look like.
Volunteer Spotlight: Stacey Spilman
With the effects of the pandemic hitting persons experiencing homelessness particularly hard, our support services have become more important than ever. Nonetheless, we’ve had to get creative and pivot many of our volunteer programs to the virtual space to ensure the health and safety of the families we serve, our volunteers, and our staff. Stacey is one of several volunteers who have continued to reach out throughout the public health crisis to support us in any way she could.
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