Homeless shelter in Springfield prepares for COVID-19 restrictions ending

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – With the state of emergency ending, homeless services will lose some extra funding and other resources.

22News spoke with a local organization about how they’re shifting operations post-pandemic. On any given night 250 people experiencing homelessness, sleep at the Friends of the Homeless campus in Springfield.

Now with the COVID-19 state emergency order ending some extra resources given to support organizations will also be ending.

“Now as we sort of wind that down, we’ve got to get back to our core mission which is to help people get back on their feet, get moved out and get on with our lives,” said Bill Miller, Housing and Homeless Services Vice President.

With the extra money from the state of emergency, the FOH was also able to add an entire nursing team during the pandemic, that will stay once the state of emergency lifts. They also received money to house people in hotels during the winter, but that resource ended.

With the money from the state emergency order, friends of the homeless was able to expand to another facility so that they would spread people out. The state told them they will be able to operate it for another year.

“We do have to keep expanded space, we don’t want to push the beds together, put people on the floor that kind of thing,” Miller added.

The state recently advised them on the best COVID-safe practices after Massachusetts’ public health emergency ends, but they have been implementing so many already.

“We’re not as vulnerable as we thought and I must say this building for instance we built it at a time when TB was at an outbreak among the homeless so we designed with high ceilings and ventilation systems,” Miller said.

Their biggest focus for the future is vaccinations to keep everyone healthy. Friends of the Homeless is giving vaccinations every Tuesday for people experiencing homelessness.

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