County Partners with Hotels to Help Homeless Social Distance

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MADISON–On March 19, County Executive Joe Parisi announced that Dane County has partnered with several hotels in Madison to secure 72 hotel rooms and counting to ensure safe social distancing for individuals experiencing homelessness in Dane County. The rooms will be used specifically for families experiencing homelessness who were staying in overnight shelter, and individuals experiencing homelessness who are considered high-risk in multiple categories for COVID-19. Move-in starts today. Dane County is allocating over $150,000 for the rooms and to provide these residents with meals. Supportive services will be provided by a number of service agencies.

Additional hotel partners are being sought to meet the need for serving individuals at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Ideal locations are properties on a major bus line and/or centrally located, and those with microwaves, fridges, or similar amenities to aid with meals while guests are staying in the rooms. Businesses interested in partnering should e-mail EmergencyManagement@countyofdane.com​.

“Dane County is committed to helping our most vulnerable residents receive the support and shelter they need during the novel coronavirus pandemic,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Through these efforts, we hope to limit the spread of COVID-19 in families experiencing homelessness and individuals at risk of developing severe health complications. A huge thank you goes out to our dedicated staff, partners, and the participating hotels who have worked around the clock to make this possible.”

Additionally, The Salvation Army will temporarily relocate over 20 families staying in their shelter to increase social distancing overnight and during the day. This will allow The Salvation Army to serve single women at their facility 24/7. Both of these actions will reduce the number of guests at The Beacon homeless day resource center during the day, and help increase social distancing there until alternative shelter can be activated for families, women, and men, respectively.

City of Madison staff and providers have finalized protocols for isolating residents who are waiting for COVID-19 test results or otherwise symptomatic. This effort will help with social distancing and give residents who are vulnerable and ill a safe place to recover outside of a shelter. City staff have located alternative shelter possibilities for men and women. It will take time for these spaces to be turned into shelters, and skilled volunteers will need to be identified to help run them.

Dane County has also secured $12,000 in extra funding for The Salvation Army’s case management program to help families and single women in need of shelter find safe shelter alternatives. This effort will help reserve limited shelter capacity for those most in need and further support social distancing. The County is also allocating funds to locate additional hand washing stations and portable toilets in areas where individuals who sleep outside spend time–promoting access to hygiene during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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