Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless launches COVID-19 Emergency Homeless Response campaign
(Plain Press, April 2020) The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) has launched a COVID-19 Emergency Homeless Response campaign to swiftly act on the threat coronavirus poses to Cleveland’s homeless population. People experiencing homelessness are one of the most at-risk populations during the pandemic. Currently, up to 2,000 people are staying in local shelters and over 200 people are experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Cleveland.
Among our many concerns, people experiencing homelessness cannot follow the leading recommendation of social distancing. Many have weak immune systems and live in congregate settings—like shelters or encampments—and the unsheltered population does not have regular access to hygiene supplies and showering facilities. There is also increased presence at local shelters due to Cleveland Public Library closures and many drop in center, meal site, and church closures.
NEOCH is combining its direct service and advocacy efforts to fill emerging gaps. The campaign will: Provide temporary housing for unsheltered people who are affected by the virus; Provide homeless prevention assistance to avoid new entries to local shelters that are already at-capacity; Support NEOCH Outreach Collaborative teams that are in need of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, paper towels, bottled water, self-opening canned items, and ready-to-eat items.
At this time, there is no current federal or state-wide emergency financial support to specifically address the risk homelessness poses to the COVID-19 outbreak. NEOCH is committed to responding quickly to this unprecedented crisis. The virus will have a disproportionate effect on people who are experiencing homelessness in our community and it is critical that we address the risk homelessness poses to the greater Cleveland area if it is not handled urgently.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN, PLEASE VISIT: WWW.NEOCH.ORG/COVID19
Editor’s Note: The mission of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless is to organize and empower homeless and at-risk men, women and children to break the cycle of poverty through public education, advocacy and the creation of nurturing environments.