COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the homeless community

News

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – With recommendations for every one to keep their distance from each other during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a little difficult for the homeless community and the people that help them. Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she has made an exception in this case.

“In thinking about the homeless population, how we are feeding people, how we are housing people, how we are ensuring that there is some access to healthcare when it’s necessary has been driving a lot of the decisions that we’ve made,” said Whitmer.

In Marquette, some changes have been made for Room at the Inn.

“Trying to help our guests make sure they’re maintaining sanitation,” said Nick Emmendorfer, Executive Director, Room at the Inn. “To having extra hand sanitizer, encouraging our guests to take showers, making sure they still have access to laundry. Basically anything they can do to keep themselves clean.”

Now they are no longer running operations at the ‘restaurant-style’ Warming Center. Instead, they are utilizing area churches during the day which previously was just used at night for guests to sleep.

“Shelters are exempt right now from that 10-person gathering rule and of course there’s just not enough churches or a big enough facility right now for us to be able to accommodate that mandate,” said Emmendorfer.

Emmendorfer says when it comes to needing help, the biggest thing now is finding a facility to help keep people at a safe distance.

“So right now I’m working with community partners to try to find some facility that’s big enough,” said Emmendorfer. “All we need is access to a facility. We can get in there, we can manage, staff it, food, meals. The local restaurants have really been just awesome in contributing food that was going to go bad. We just need to get into a bigger facility so we can maintain health social distancing.”

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