PIHC Covid-19 Shelter Update

New COVID-19 Emergency Sheltering Program Capacity Expands by 84%  

Expansion completes Phase 1; adds up to 842 room nights to shelter vulnerable residents

EVERETT, Wash., March 23, 2020 – Snohomish County, Providence Institute for a Healthier Community (PIHC), and the Community Foundation of Snohomish County (CFSC) today announced an 84 percent expansion in emergency sheltering capacity over the next 30 days to help those most at risk of exposure to Covid-19.

The expansion, which fully funds Phase One of the Emergency Sheltering Program, was funded by a $50,000 donation from the Providence St. Joseph Health Community Resiliency Fund, combined with 20% lower-than-estimated average cost of room nights.

The expanded funding from the PSJH Community Resiliency Fund – the first COVID-19 community program supported by that fund – will pay for an additional 842 bed nights over the next 30 days for those who are experiencing homelessness and are:

  • Parents with children
  • Veterans
  • Other medically vulnerable individuals

“As a growing number of cities today announce Shelter In Place policies, this is a critical time to take steps that can help protect vulnerable families, our community and precious medical facilities from exposure to COVID-19 where possible,” said Scott Forslund, Executive Director for the Providence Institute for a Healthier Community.

“The need is particularly acute for those no with home to shelter in place. We are indebted to our community for having a strong infrastructure already in place; to Providence St. Joseph Health Community Resiliency Fund for responding so rapidly to expand this sheltering capacity; and to the County team working diligently to stretch initial funding, and with agencies across Snohomish County able to triage and allocate non-group living quarters for people across Snohomish County.”

Phase 1 Emergency Sheltering Program addresses only one stratum of community need: unsheltered people who are medically vulnerable but have no symptoms of COVID-19. Local officials are also working with state and federal agencies to expand quarantine sites for people who are symptomatic or exposed, and isolation sites for people who have confirmed COVID-19 and do not require hospitalization.

The public/private sector team undertook a rapid Phase 1 response based on early indications that while quarantine and isolation sites may be reimbursed at state or federal levels, there was no certainty that local shelter for medically vulnerable unsheltered people would be reimbursed.

“We opted to not wait, but rather to move ahead aggressively with a local public/private initiative to address this component,” Forslund said.

As of Friday, March 20, By Friday, two dedicated Snohomish County housing Navigators had reached out to 21 medically vulnerable households, 12 of whom were moving in on Friday and one today.  Three were already housed and staff were still trying to make contact with five.

“We will continue to reach out to more households for Phase 1,” said Mary Jane Vujovic, Director of Human Services for Snohomish County. “We plan to “surge” in Phase 2 to reach out to more households as needed as resources become available.”

This rapid response was possible due to an existing strong public/private community network and infrastructure, and next steps will build on that.

Snohomish County has a network of 20 Housing Navigators countywide, five of whom work at Snohomish County, five at Volunteers of America/Dispute Resolution Center, and two each at Catholic Community Services, Domestic Violence Services, Cocoon House, YWCA, and Lutheran Community Services.

The $20,000 seed grant and $50,000 expansion funds from the Providence Institute for a Healthier Community and Providence St Joseph Health Community Resiliency Fund were leveraged by $80,000 from Snohomish County to complete the Phase 1 Homeless Community Containment/Protection Program. Phase 1 establishes housing for an estimated 1,800 bed nights, currently expected to house over 60 vulnerable families per night for the next 30 days.

Phase 2 will further expand response capability and financial capacity to provide this temporary non-group shelter.  This includes:

  • working within the established Coordinated Entry navigator infrastructure to take it further, connecting dedicated Snohomish County navigators further with other housing navigators countywide;
  • gathering further evidence on the remaining gap of homeless, COVID-19 medically vulnerable, especially veterans and families with young children;
  • Continuing to track actual vs projected costs to understand how far Phase 1 dollars can actually stretch (thus far, navigators have secured short-term shelter at an average cost of 20 percent lower than estimated.)

Program funding is administered through the Community Foundation of Snohomish County — the designated community funding arm for Snohomish County’s COVID-19 response, working closely with the Snohomish County Executive’s Office, Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, and other partners providing emergency response. Providence NWSA through Providence Institute for a Healthier Community is partnering with CFSC to provide centralized online hub for COVID-19 Community Needs/Resources Exchange. Over 40 new organizational needs and resources have been posted in the past week, including offers from individuals to volunteer where needed. See linkage on GiveWellLOCAL.org.

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