Montgomery County is investing up to $8 million to make critical improvements to emergency congregate shelters that serve citizens experiencing homelessness, using funds received from the federal CARES Act. The planned improvements will help lower the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak at the two largest emergency shelters in the county, both operated by St. Vincent de Paul Society.
“This $8 million in CARES Act funding will provide much-needed additions to our county’s emergency shelters,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge. “St. Vincent de Paul is providing a critical service for those who experience homelessness, and this will help create a safer shelter environment.”
The funding will go toward converting a single shared bathroom into private bathrooms and relocating some facilities to the Job Center to allow space for additional beds at the Gateway Shelter for Women and Families. The project will also add space for individual services to open space for overflow beds at the Gateway Shelter for Men. This funding will support the cost of housing some high-risk individuals at a local motel.
“This is a critical investment to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens during this pandemic,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Carolyn Rice. “Many who experience homelessness fall into the high-risk categories for COVID-19, such as people over 65, or those who suffer from preexisting conditions. We need to do everything we can to keep them safe.”
St. Vincent de Paul and other community partners have taken precautions and so far avoided a large COVID-19 outbreak within the homeless services system.
“We’re fortunate that we’ve kept people safe throughout the pandemic thus far,” said Michael Vanderburgh, Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul. “This significant investment ensures that we’ll be able to provide a safe shelter environment and reduce the impact of coronavirus on people experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County.”
St. Vincent de Paul provides food, shelter, and hygiene for nearly 400 people each day, which creates a challenge to ensure that each of those 400 people are safe during the pandemic. Nearly 40 percent of shelter guests are estimated to be at potentially higher risk for severe illness from the disease.
“St. Vincent de Paul has been a great partner to Montgomery County,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman. “They helped our community through the tornadoes last year, and they’ve worked hard to create a safe environment for people experiencing homelessness throughout the pandemic. Their work is very important, especially in a time of crisis.”
As part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the U.S. Treasury issued Montgomery County $92 million. This funding is providing financial relief to individuals and organizations that have experienced hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Montgomery County has several grant programs available. More information on these programs is available at www.mcohiocares.org.