COVID 19 Updates
Last updated 19 March 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has unsettled life for all of us. It has heightened and further exposed the failures in our system with the worst effects falling unequally on the marginalized and vulnerable in our society.
It is also bringing us together in a greater collective effort as we seek to manage this crisis.
Individuals currently experiencing or at risk of homelessness are particularly vulnerable during a pandemic. Lacking permanent housing means that these individuals cannot effectively self-isolate. They are exposed to increased risk every day and lack access to infrastructure and supply to maintain their health and mitigate risk. Many have compromised health conditions which put them under even greater risk to suffer the worst effects of the virus. The fear and uncertainty we are all feeling affects this community ten-fold.
This is to provide update as to how these times and circumstances have affected Unity Project for Relief of Homelessness and what we are doing to provide shelter and support for people experiencing homelessness in context of an evolving crisis management strategy within the City of London.
Over the past week, we have taken the relevant precautions and screening within our means so as to provide core services including shelter and drop-in supports. Formalized case-management is on hold as we focus on our essential services. Operational logistics are shifting daily to ensure we are doing all in our power to mitigate risk to participants and staff.
Our frontline staff are to be greatly commended for their incredible effort, flexibility, care and calm.
Despite all measures, our facility is simply inadequate to safely support the number of individuals accessing our shelter – we cannot maintain adequate social distancing in that space and we cannot isolate people should they screen with any symptoms.
In partnership with the City of London, we will be temporarily closing our current shelter location (717 Dundas Street) and moving to a hotel where we can host a larger population and manage private rooms. This space will prioritize those who are most vulnerable and not currently sick, including seniors, some families and those with prior respiratory conditions. It will operate much like supportive housing, while allowing for adequate social distancing.
This is a 3-month plan, until further notice.
The City will lead a coordinated effort among shelter operators to shift and relocate the population into the most appropriate service facility to meet their needs and will work with us to coordinate related services and supports for meals, cleaning and healthcare.
Residents within our Supportive Housing will remain housed in the front building of our current facility at 719-721 Dundas and our Housing Stability Program will remain at this site supporting those folks and others on their case-load. Home-visits are suspended until further notice, however meetings with participants continue with the attendant precautionary protocols.
The community is collaborating to plan for the continuation of drop-in services in the Old East Village community for access to washroom, shower, phone, basic needs, and crisis response – location TBD.
There will be no drop-in services and no donations accepted at the new location.
How you can help…
Financial donations are needed most.