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COVID -19 – what is being done to help the homeless during this health crisis

We’re used to knocking on doors and going to events, but to keep our community safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19, my campaign is switching to outreach that allows everyone to maintain social distancing.

If you would like to help Elect Kate Davidson, contact me for more information on how to do so from your home. Thank you to everyone who is currently helping on the campaign, and extended thank you’s to those who plan to.

I’m going to focus this latest of my blog articles on COVID-19 – what the City is doing, what our non-profit partners working with the homeless are doing, and what is happening nation-wide to help the homeless and people in poverty during this crisis.

Our hearts are going out to the homeless and the most vulnerable among us. These are very intense and trying times for everyone. I know everyone reading this is extending gratitude to those in our community working in shelters and on the streets – getting hand-washing stations set up, making sure people have everything they need to stay safe and warm on these cold and alarming nights.

https://www.registerguard.com/news/20200317/banding-together-to-keep-homeless-services-flowing

The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to change the way we live our lives for the foreseeable future. It is in the overwhelming interest of our entire community of both housed and unhoused, business, schools & universities, faith communities, neighborhood associations, and non-profits to join together to help mitigate this infection and minimize the impact it has on all of us. The unhoused, forced to live in substandard conditions without adequate health care, tend to be more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Only through reprioritizing our resources will we be able to stop the spread of this infection.

Whitebird and other community partner homeless organizations are in full force emergency management mode. Whitebird is now hiring an Emergency Management Assistant. Here is the link, in case you or anyone you know is interested in applying.

In light of the Oregon State of Emergency The CoE Human Rights Commission has asked the City Council to take swift action to implement the following:

  1. Suspend sweeps and implement shelter-in-place protocols during the declaration of emergency. People need enough sleep to keep their immune systems up and should not be forcibly deprived of medications and survival gear during this crisis.
  2. Implement a moratorium on towing vehicles that house people, as these individual accommodations make it possible for people to self-quarantine.
  3. Provide adequate access to hygienic facilities for toileting, bathing, and handwashing in areas with known encampments.
  4. Replace Eugene Police with trained outreach workers to support the unhoused by distributing supplies including water for drinking and washing, hand sanitizer, food items, information about how to limit infection, and where to seek medical care.
  5. Prepare to open emergency shelter space and engage homeless service system staff if consistent with public health recommendations.
  6. Be ready to facilitate transportation assistance and accessible care for people with physical and/or mental disabilities or financial barriers.

Lane County Public Health in conjunction with the Oregon Health Authority are the lead agencies during a public health emergency. You can find out more from those websites.

Lane County Public Health Community Call Center

Lane County Public Health’s call center is available for non-emergency calls related to COVID-19 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The phone number is 541-682-1380.

Hand-washing stations conveniently placed all over town

The City of Eugene is:

  • Making sure first responders stay healthy and are prepared to continue serving the community.
  • Suspending meetings, temporarily closing facilities, and modifying some face-to-face services to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Eugene. Learn more about public meetings and facilities
  • Working with homeless service partners and the County to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 among people who are unhoused, including finding alternative shelter options, deploying handwashing stations, and making sure service providers have the supplies they need to stay healthy.
  • Collaborating and coordinating with our partners at the County, Springfield and across Eugene to identify community needs and address them as quickly as possible.

For those of you concerned about the homeless nation-wide as well as locally, there is a lot of great information in this letter from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition about what is being done nation-wide and in individual states during this crisis. The following information was compiled, written, and distributed by:

Noah Patton (he/him)
Housing Policy Analyst
National Low Income Housing Coalition
1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC  20005
(202) 662-1530, x251
npatton@nlihc.org | www.nlihc.org

Connect with NLIHC on Facebook and Twitter
Check out our Blog

Letter to the Lane County Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition

Dear DHRC members and partners,

Many thanks to all who joined this afternoon’s National Call on Coronavirus and Homelessness/Housing. Over 2,000 organizers, advocates, reporters, and legislative staff attended to learn about the most pressing needs for homeless and housing-insecure individuals. You can find a recording of the call and up-to-date news and resources on NLIHC’s website at: https://nlihc.org/coronavirus-and-housing-homelessness.

On the call, Rachel Heller from CHAPA in Boston talked about the need for federal action to provide emergency rental assistance and homelessness prevention tools. Erin Burns-Maine discussed the extensive work at NYCHA to provide deep cleaning for public housing developments, but urged Congress to provide much-needed resources to cover these unexpected costs. Kate Speltz from King County, WA outlined the different strategies they’ve been utilizing to decongest shelters, while Alison Eisinger from the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness spoke to the need for urgency. Allies in the disability, immigrant, homelessness, and healthcare community – Marcie Roth from World Institute on Disability, Laura Esquivel from Hispanic Federation, Jerry Jones from National Alliance to End Homelessness, and Barbara DiPietro from National Health Care for the Homeless – highlighted the unique needs of marginalized populations. Beth Cooper from the office of Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and NLIHC’s Sarah Saadian shared federal updates and urged advocates to continue to press for the resources they need.

To that end, we ask everyone to call your Representatives and Senators TODAY and TOMORROW to urge Congress to include resources in the current Coronavirus response package to address the housing and health needs of people experiencing homelessness who are at the greatest risk of an outbreak. The House-passed version does not include any resources to address homelessness/housing, and we are working hard to ensure that critical resources are added before the bill becomes final.

The DHRC will continue to push for a broad array of resources and protections, including emergency rental assistance and eviction prevention assistance, a national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, and emergency funds for homelessness service providers, housing authorities, and housing providers, among other recommendations. For more information, see DHRC’s full list of recommendations, which we will continue to expand and refine. To participate in the DHRC Policy Working Group, please contact Sarah Saadian at ssaadian@nlihc.org.

Finally, it was mentioned on the call that NLIHC signed on to a letter headed by the World Institute on Disability and others urging all levels of government to put in place strategies to address the needs of people with disabilities throughout all phases of the outbreak. To learn more, contact Marcie at marcie@wid.org.

Additional updates below.

Coronavirus Update, Monday, March 16, 2020

National Updates  

Congress

A COVID-19 emergency package was passed by a bipartisan vote of 363-40 on the night of March 13. The vote comes after a tentative agreement was reached between House Democrats and the Administration on emergency funding for COVID-19 response. It includes two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave for some workers. It also enhances unemployment insurance and food assistance. While the bill is much needed, the legislation does not include critical resources for people experiencing homelessness, who are at a greater risk of a Coronavirus outbreak. NLIHC released a statement calling out the oversight.

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson asking for the release of greater guidance and other assistance to help low-income families and the organizations that serve them deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) released a letter pressing President Donald Trump to issue an immediate, nationwide moratorium on all foreclosures on GSE or Federally owned or insured properties.

FEMA

The President announced a national emergency declaration, freeing up over $50 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund to be used to combat the epidemic.

FEMA announced that they would be allowing reimbursement under its Public Assistance Program for activities including emergency protective measures, National Guard costs, and other measures necessary to protect public health and safety. The FEMA assistance will be provided at a 75% Federal cost share. 

Reporting

The Washington Post covered the increasing risk to the homeless caused by COVID-19.

An article from the Brookings Institute covered ways in which homeless populations and individuals living in substandard or unaffordable housing are uniquely susceptible to an epidemic.

State Actions

California

 California plans to utilize hotels and motels to shelter individuals experiencing homelessness as the COVID-19 threat grows.

The State of California’s Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency released guidance for homeless assistance providers for dealing with COVID-19.

Connecticut

The state of Connecticut moved to prevent any utility shutoffs for the duration of the public health emergency put in place by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.

Delaware

The Delaware Justice of the Peace has postponed all landlord/tenant proceedings until after May 1.

Kentucky

Kentucky Courts cancelled evictions proceedings until April 10. Evictions that are already in progress in some Kentucky counties are being executed.

Maryland

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan banned evictions for the duration of the state of emergency.

Massachusetts

Lawmakers and officials in Massachusetts are calling for measures to prevent housing evictions as COVID-19 spreads in the region.

New York

New York will be suspending evictions until further notice. 

North Carolina

Lawmakers approved a 90-day ban on evictions proceedings in the state.

Ohio

Activists are pushing for a statewide eviction ban in Ohio.

Oregon

Pressure is mounting on the Oregon government to enact an eviction ban as COVID-19 continues to spread in the state.

South Carolina

A SC legislator has introduced legislation that would place a pause on evictions in the state for the next six months as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Washington

State legislators agreed to allocate $170 million to assist in homelessness coronavirus response.

Local News

Austin

Travis County will not see any evictions or utility shut-offs until after April 1st.

Baltimore

Baltimore City Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young halted all evictions until schools have reopened. The move comes after the Baltimore City Council – led by Council President Brandon Scott – passed a resolution calling for the move. 

Boston

The Boston Housing Authority notified the state Housing Court Thursday that it will not pursue “non-essential eviction actions” for as long as Governor Charlie Baker’s declared state of emergency lasts.

Chicago

The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless released a set of recommendations to be taken by the City of Chicago to assist individuals experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.

Cook County announced that it would be halting evictions for the next 30 days. 

Los Angeles

The Los Angeles government order a moratorium on evictions.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority released a list of actions it has taken in light of the pandemic.

Miami

The Miami-Dade Police Department announced that it would be halting all evictions following an emergency declaration.

New Orleans

Judges in New Orleans announced that they would be halting all pending evictions until the end of April.

New York City

New York City announced a moratorium on evictions as schools and nightlife are shutdown.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia has suspended evictions during the COVID-19 crisis.

Portland

A group of unhoused women claims that a Portland motel owner ordered them to leave their rooms they were hoping to use as shelter during the epidemic. The nonprofit that paid for the rooms is alleging discrimination. 

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said that he supported a ban on evictions and rent increases during the public health crisis. However, there have been no moves to push those ideas through the City Council

San Jose

The San Jose City Council approved a proposal to prevent evictions while the Coronavirus emergency is occurring. The California Apartment Association said that they would support a commonsense moratorium on evictions. The moratorium would take effect upon passage and remain in effect for 30 days with the possibility of extensions.

San Francisco/Bay Area

The Bay area region largely has enacted a ban on evictions during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, San Francisco and six of it’s surrounding counties issued a shelter-in-place order starting tomorrow morning. That order does not apply to unhoused individuals.

Seattle

Seattle is also halting any power or water shut-off’s due to nonpayment during the city’s coronavirus emergency.

The city also put in place an emergency ban on evictions.

Washington, D.C.

DC City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced a measure banning evictions in the city. 

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