NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Northampton is opening an emergency shelter for the homeless.
Northampton has opened a 24/7 emergency shelter at Northampton High School. The shelter will serve residents of ServiveNet’s two overnight homeless shelters located on Center Street and Grove Street which are closing.
The city has also prepared meals with help from Smith College and the Hampshire County House of Corrections. The Northampton COVID-19 Emergency Management Team has spent the last several weeks planning, setting up the shelter, securing resources, and working with ServiceNet officials.
Fears of the coronavirus have caused two homeless shelters in Northampton to close and a new emergency shelter with more space to open. Because the homeless population has a high risk of COVID-19, the 48-bed shelter is taking every precaution to keep residents safe from social distancing to medical screening.
“Whenever anyone enters the shelter their temperature is taken and they are asked a couple of question you know have you been feeling sick? Have you been in contact with anyone who’s had flu like symptoms? Stuff like that,” said Chief John Davine of the Northampton Fire Department.
The 24/7 shelter will be staffed by ServiceNet, city workers, and community volunteers including security provided by the Northampton Police Department. Before entering the shelter, staff and shelter residents will be screened by health questions, and if any suspected illness is shown, they will not be allowed into the facility.
If residents or staff do not pass the medical screening they will be directed to medical attention and isolation at a separate location. The shelter is being run by the city, public health department, and Northampton police and fire. Smith College and the Hampshire County House of Corrections will provide meals.
Those who are allowed inside will be screened twice a day. Northampton High School will be cleared and cleaned thoroughly prior to school reopening.
The City of Northampton has also created a COVID-19 Emergency Fund and is accepting donations
from the community to support the shelter.