DETROIT – Homeless shelters in the city of Detroit are creating specific places for homeless people to quarantine and recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Some shelters are seeing an uptick in the number of people in need. They’ve removed bunk beds and ended communal meals. They’re also cleaning every few hours.
“We never had to deal with this volume 24/7,” said Chad Audi, president of Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.
During a pandemic, how do you stay safe when you’re homeless? Detroit shelters are now full of the city’s most vulnerable people.
“Right now, costs have increased three times,” Audi said.
Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries added two overflow sites with more than 300 beds, and demand is growing.
This month, 500 people have needed shelter. Typically, it’s around 300 this time of year. For some, their only choice is to turn to shelters to keep their families safe.
“To protect both sides, both older parents in particular and themselves, so they stay in the shelter because they can’t afford going to a hotel,” Audi said.
City officials said testing is key in the fight against COVID-19.
“Twice a week, nurses go to all 30 homeless shelters in the city,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said. “Our infection rate is lower than nursing homes.”
Others are jumping in to help, as well. The Pope Francis Center is using Detroit Mercy Law’s parking lot to provide meals while keeping people apart. There’s also a truck with showers and restrooms available.
Nonprofits, though, are urging people to remain at shelters for their own safety.
“This is the unfortunate part: Those people have no place to go, no parents to (talk to) on the phone, and we’re trying to occupy them as much as we can,” Audi said.