Week 3: COVID-19 Update
April 2, 2020
Impact of COVID-19. Now closing in on 3 weeks in this unprecedented environment, Heading Home has moved into disaster relief work, increasing all efforts that contribute to containing the spread of virus and keeping our clients safe and well-nourished.
First, the scope of work might be helpful. We are presently supporting:
- Emergency Shelter and Stabilization for Families. 250 families and their 525 children in emergency shelter, that includes both congregate settings (7 houses for multiple families) and many scattered site apartments throughout Boston.
- Chronically Homeless Individuals. 230+ chronically homeless adults that we support through our Cambridge Shelter, Rindge House, Duley House, McKay House, Lopez House and scattered site units in Cambridge.
- Transitional Housing for Families. 20 families and their 38 children in transitional housing scattered site apartments in Boston.
Phase I of our response began with health concerns top of mind. Thorough cleaning and regular sanitization of our close-proximity shelters and housing programs, as well as instituting safe distancing best practices across the agency and regular reminders about the importance of hand washing were instituted immediately. We began preparing contingency plans that looked out to the ever-evolving nature of this pandemic, by anticipating the needs of clients and staff who may become ill. We have 11 properties across Greater Boston (Dorchester, Roxbury, Cambridge and Medford) that require staffing 24 hours per day/7days a week to protect and support our clients.
Contrary to what many might believe, our best-in-class approach to working with a population like ours in times like these, is to increase communication rather than distance ourselves. Already isolated and without substantial support systems, our clients need to hear from us more than ever, and they have through an implementation of intense, remote case management. Comprehensive coverage of clients’ mental, physical and emotional health, as well as providing the necessary basic needs has been instituted to provide to ensure we are being responsive to the evolving needs of every child, family and adult in our programs.
Phase II has arrived, and within several days, Heading Home has moved into disaster relief. Food, medication and supply insecurity has prompted us to shift mission to be sure our clients’ basic needs are met. Heading Home has accomplished this disaster relief work through preparedness and distribution of food and supplies.
Heading Home is part of the segment of essential non-profits where suspending operations is just not possible. Homelessness does not pause during a pandemic.
Fiscal Implications.As we look ahead to financial estimates for the impact of COVID, we are sourcing public, private and in-kind support as well as volunteers to help offset costs.
COVID-19 Emergency Response Funds will be spent to ensure:
- Operationalizing food drops to:
- All individuals and families who have Heading Home housing or services are fed and have access to necessary medication and supplies. 200 Family Emergency Shelter units so that no family or any of our 525 Heading Home children supported in our programs currently goes hungry or is food insecure. We also support an additional 40 vulnerable families through transitional, permanent supportive housing and stabilization services.
- All our 250 chronically homeless adults that we support through our Cambridge Shelter, Rindge House, Duley House, McKay House, Lopez House and scattered site units in Cambridge.
- Delivery of critical health and safety supplies to help keep families, children and chronically homeless adults healthy and those housing units habitable, to not put any clients into an unstable living situation.
- Professional cleaning services to sanitize congregate shelters where 7-8 families live, or 14 chronically homeless adults share the same co-living spaces.
- Increased staff support in order to:
- Increase touch points with every Heading Home client to ensure they feel safe, that they have the proper resources, support and that we understand how their health may be impacted or if they are showing signs of being infected.
- Temporary help may be required to ensure that no facility where staff may be impacted or sick with the virus cannot be properly staffed 24 hours/7 days per week. This is critically important to maintain the health and wellbeing of our homeless clients who are incredibly vulnerable.
COVID Support Impact. The impact of critical funding being raised would directly touch and impact all Heading Home clients being supported in our shelter and housing programs today and over the coming months. Your investment will directly impact:
- The nearly 250 families who are living in shelter and housing with us:
- 148 of those families have at least one child under the age of 5 today.
- 525 children under the age of 18 living in our shelters and housing.
- 230+ chronically homeless adults who live in permanent supportive housing with us; 100% of them are living with a disability (mental, emotional or physical), a chronic health condition that impairs their ability to live without support and often, these clients are suffering from both concurrently.
- 21 homeless adults who are living in our Cambridge Shelter, where for their safety and health, we have allowed them to stay 24 hours a day indefinitely until we are through this pandemic. We have shifted our meal availability accordingly and are providing all 21 people three meals per day.
These funds would be implemented instantly as we are incurring daily costs outside of our normal operating budget to keep every child and client protected, healthy and fed.
We are beyond appreciative and humbled to have the opportunity to be considered for your support during this unprecedented time. We respectfully request your consideration of an investment of whatever capacity may be possible as we ensure the safety, health and well-being of all our clients who are in shelter and housed with us. Thank you!
In response to COVID-19, Heading Home is increasing all efforts that contribute to containing the spread of virus and keeping our clients safe. This means our close-proximity shelters and housing programs are thoroughly sanitized regularly. It means preparing contingency plans that look out to the second and third stages of this pandemic, anticipating the needs of clients who may become ill. Staff will shift from in-person meetings to operate out of our offices, limiting home visits to when absolutely necessary. Contrary to what many might believe, our best-in-class approach to working with a population like ours in times like these, is to increase communication rather than distance ourselves. Already isolated and without substantial support systems, our clients need to hear from us more than ever, and they will. Comprehensive coverage of clients’ mental, physical and emotional health, as well as providing the necessary basic needs has been instituted to include two touch points weekly.Heading Home is part of the segment of non-profits where suspending operations is just not possible. Homelessness does not pause during a pandemic. In fact, upwards of $250,000 in unplanned purchases will be spent by Heading Home on supplies and basic needs in stage one of our COOP plan – our commitment to remain functional always. Should schools close and meal access become suspended, we will incur $647,000 in food related expenses to ensure that no one in our care goes hungry. We take the safety of our clients seriously. As a housing provider and public agency that supports our city’s families and individuals experiencing homelessness, we are a critical part of the system that has been in constant communication with state and city officials to help contain the potential spread of disease.In these moments, we all can feel anxious and fearful of the unknown. We need your support more than ever, and we ask that you continue, or consider increasing, your generosity. Please join us as we protect and care for those who need it most.