A coalition of homeless shelters in Bloomington has launched a temporary isolation shelter in Monroe County. The new shelter will provide urgently needed capacity for people who are homeless and advised to self-isolate to help protect themselves, their families and the community from spread of the COVID-19 virus.
According to the coalition, it is one of only a few isolation shelters nationwide.
The project is supported with a $70,000 grant from the Monroe County United Way, along with public support, and was spearheaded by four homeless shelters. According to a news release, the Monroe County Health Department provided medical guidance for the shelter’s design and operating plans. The coalition says the shelter was created by retrofitting an unused portion of a commercial warehouse and was completed in less than four weeks.
The agencies collaborating on the effort include:
- New Hope for Families, an emergency shelter for families experiencing homelessness;
- Shalom Community Center, which operates an overnight shelter for single adults;
- Middle Way House, which operates an emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence;
- Wheeler Mission, a faith-based agency operating emergency shelters in Indianapolis and Bloomington.
“This isolation shelter is urgently needed because people who are homeless are at greater risk of acquiring the virus, and have no practical way to follow social 2 of 6 distancing guidelines,” noted Emily Pike, executive director of New Hope for Families, one of the principle agencies involved in the project. “From a public health standpoint, we want to contain the spread of the virus, but just as importantly, from a human perspective, we want to make sure these people have a safe, sheltered environment to recover from illness.”
Admission to the isolation shelter will require a medical referral, and the recommendation from one of the partner agencies. Project leaders say the isolation shelter is not a medical facility. Shalom Community Center and New Hope for Families say they will provide case management and ongoing support for clients while at the isolation shelter.