Care and Precautions for Unsheltered NOW
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Heather Majaury sent a public letter and asked the Regional Chair and the Mayor of Kitchener, when, not if, local community centres in the region will open as essential service for the homeless and unsheltered. (read the letter here) Heather's voice is among the many asking for 24hr housing for unsheltered residents in community centres, hotels, student housing. We are all still waiting for an answer. The answer to preventing the spread of the virus and to preventing deaths, and an announcement that public and private facilities will open doors for basic care, access to food, and a chance for social distancing before we go into a lockdown.
The regional Community Support Control Group is working on day drop-in spaces. We are asking for 24hr facilities, day and night for more than 200 unsheltered in our community, with the support of the new funding from the provincial government for the most vulnerable.
Civic Hub grassroots conversations are slowly moving online. Since social-distancing started, most of them focus on homeless outside of the shelter system (unsheltered) as the whole infrastructure shut down on them, coffee shops, public washrooms, day drop ins, internet access, community food distribution and service programs. Of course, all the advice made for us who are middle class, such as, stay home, stock up, sleep 8 hours, order from Amazon, avoid groups and crowds, impossible to follow.
Regional government has brought together social and housing service agencies and responded to centralize food security programs, ensure shelters are open 24 hours (no 8hr sleep there), open three day use locations with public washrooms, and in collaboration with health care frontliners, make sure that homeless who show symptoms of respiratory illness can be isolated in motel rooms. We are all concerned. We had a humanitarian crisis for many winters now with the number of unsheltered individuals increased. It was never acceptable. It is not acceptable now.
Heather Majaury sent a public letter and asked the Regional Chair and the Mayor of Kitchener, when, not if, local community centres in the region will open as essential service for the homeless. (read the letter here) We are all still waiting for an answer. The answer to preventing the spread of the virus and to preventing deaths among the homeless and unsheltered population. Think on a scale of distancing to isolation to quarantine. Unsheltered individuals will have many health challenges, and they need safe overnight space too to keep distance and stop the spread. We do not have the facilities open for this. Once they exhibit symptoms, who will know if they are outside of the shelter system? If they are identified, there will be spaces in motels for them. They need to stay there if they are awaiting results or if they need to be quarantined. Many would not be able to take care of themselves. Providing care will be even more difficult if we go into a lockdown.
You can see how the time is of essence. So, the question is not when, but if it is happening today. In community centres, student residences, hotels. Join the call and talk to your councillor at the city, township and the region.
We seek solidarity of support between local citizens and the local grassroots network groups that support this call as listed HERE (bottom of page).
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