Dear Local Public Health Colleagues,
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. As always, thank you for your crucial work on the ground serving the homeless community. I’m reaching out to provide some updates on our work at the Command Center, and to highlight the resources available to you.
On April 17th, the Baker-Polito administration published a press release outlining the Commonwealth’s strategy to address homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak. This strategy includes 5 key initiatives:
1. Isolation & Recovery Sites For COVID-19 Positive Homeless Individuals
· As many of you are already aware, we have opened 5 (Everett, Lexington, Northampton, Pittsfield, Taunton) state-operated isolation and recovery sites for people experiencing homelessness who test positive for COVID-19 and need a safe place to recover.
‒ For individuals outside Boston, please NOTE THAT THIS NUMBER HAS CHANGED: call 617-367-5150 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The intake coordinator will determine eligibility, register an individual for the program, and have the guest placed and transported to the nearest Isolation and Recovery location that has availability.
‒ For those in Boston, please call 617-534-5050. The City of Boston has implemented services for individuals who are COVID-19 positive and homeless within Boston and can be reached at this number for further coordination.
2. Supplies To Support Local Quarantine Solutions
· With the Administration’s support, communities across the Commonwealth are standing up quarantine sites to provide a safe place for homeless individuals who were exposed to COVID-19 but are not symptomatic, and we have created an expedited process for homeless shelters and municipalities to request equipment and supplies for quarantine solutions, such as tents, beds, and portable showers.
· For assistance with tents or furnishing, please contact Jane McClenathan (Jane.Mcclenathan@MassMail.State.MA.US).
3. Expedited PPE and Cleaning Supplies Distribution To Shelters
· The Administration has established an expedited process for shelters to request PPE and other supplies necessary to maintain appropriate cleaning and sanitation practices; to place a request, please complete this online form.
4. Technical Assistance for Organizations/ Municipalities Seeking Funding Through FEMA’s Public Assistance Program
· FEMA will reimburse 75% of municipality and non-profit organization costs associated with qualifying quarantine and isolation services for people experiencing homelessness; Massachusetts has established a dedicated portal to support municipalities and organizations through the grant application process.
5. Support for Families In Emergency Assistance and Domestic Violence Shelters
· The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) have instituted practices outlined by the CDC to mitigate COVID-19 outbreaks within congregate shelters.
· DHCD has increased the state’s scattered site capacity to enable additional depopulation, quarantine, and isolation of families at various stages of COVID-19 exposure and developed protocols for shelters dealing with families that have tested positive for COVID-19, especially when some family members test negative.
Finally, you can find additional information and resources at the Department of Public Health’s page for Homelessness Support.
Thank you for all you are doing to support people with COVID-19 and keep people safe.
COVID-19 Command Center
Executive Office of Health and Human Services
Ron O'Connor, MPH
Director, Office of Local and Regional Health
COVID-19 Information for Local Boards of Health - https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-information-for-local-boards-of-health
24/7 DPH Epi Line for COVID-19 Case Support
COVID-19 web site: www.mass.gov/covid19
DPH Website: www.mass.gov/dph