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Columbus announces new COVID-19 shelter for homeless

The city of Columbus, Community Shelter Board and YMCA of Central Ohio recently announced the opening of a new shelter for homeless residents who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or have been determined by a medical professional to be showing symptoms of COVID-19. The location of the shelter is not being released to protect the privacy of the residents.

“COVID-19 is presenting a number of serious challenges to our community, especially our most vulnerable residents,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “Our homeless shelters are not built for social distancing which is a key to slowing the spread of this infection. The new shelter will help quarantine and isolate homeless residents so they can recover without exposing others.”

Community Shelter Board raised the issue that more than 1,200 people sleep in homeless shelters in Columbus and Franklin County on any given night, while an estimated 600 or more are on the streets, an increase caused in part by recent job losses in connection with efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Public, private and nonprofit sectors working together made this shelter possible, which can care for around 90 households at a time,” said Michelle Heritage, executive director of Community Shelter Board. “We will need continued support as we expect the surge in COVID-19 cases to continue to impact people experiencing homelessness.”

The YMCA of Central Ohio houses 1,800 Columbus residents experiencing homelessness to include men, women and children. Earlier this month, they opened their Downtown Branch facility as a social distancing center, sheltering 200 men nightly.

“The YMCA of Central Ohio is proud to serve over 100,000 community members annually through our wellness, student success and housing and shelter work,” said Tony Collins, president and CEO of YMCA of Central Ohio. “We have been evolving over the past 164 years to meet the needs of central Ohio and I look forward to us continuing this evolution of serving central Ohio.”

The shelter will be staffed by volunteers from the Franklin County Medical Reserve Corps, volunteer medical, public health and other professionals who contribute their expertise during times of crisis.

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