FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2020
Vice President of Communications and Public Policy
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Opens Satellite Clinic and 388 motel rooms for People Experiencing Homeless in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), through its Stout Street Health Center (SSHC), continues to provide integrated health services to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness in Metro Denver—a population which is extremely vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the weekend, the SSHC set up a satellite clinic at the National Western Complex (NWC) to provide primary and behavioral health services to the guests of the auxiliary shelter. CCH staff are providing health screenings at the door to help contain the potential spread of the virus in the new shelter facility. Individuals with fever, recently-developed symptoms, and known exposure are further triaged and evaluated for testing. For those individuals that meet the public health guidelines for testing, CCH staff transport them to activated respite set up by CCH and the City of Denver to await testing results.
As the crisis began to unfold, CCH immediately secured 100 motel rooms of activated respite over two weeks ago for individuals that are experiencing homelessness and are either awaiting test results or recovering from the COVID-19 virus. Just last week, CCH secured an additional 100 motel rooms for both activated respite and protective action stays which includes places for people experiencing homelessness who are referred from shelter providers because they are at high risk for health complications if they contract the virus. Over the weekend, CCH was able to secure an additional 174 motel rooms for protective action stays which will be available for shelter and hospital referrals later this week. That contract has an option to add an additional 138 units if we reach capacity with the other rooms and locations. This effort would not have been possible without the partnership between the City of Denver and CCH and the support provided by the Governor’s Office for National Guard deployment. CCH staff continue to engage in outreach to local motels across the city to encourage partnership in providing these critical resources to individuals who are unable to “stay at home” during this crisis. We continue to encourage hotel or motel operators to contact us if they have rooms they can make available for this purpose.
To date, SSHC staff has triaged 501 individuals at the Health Center and at the National Western Center (NWC). Two-hundred twenty-five (225) individuals have been tested for COVID-19 resulting in 183 negative results and 40 positive results between the two sites. At least 113 individuals were transported to activated respite sites to isolate and recover in the motel locations that CCH secured. The critical screening, testing, and isolation services provided by CCH for those with COVID-19 symptoms have likely slowed the spread of the virus among those experiencing homelessness in Denver but much more needs to be done.
CCH has also been very engaged in advocating for more resources from the Governor’s Office to address the critical and unique needs of those experiencing homelessness. On Tuesday, April 7th, CCH supported the action of 23 elected officials who sent a letter to Governor Polis requesting the commitment of additional resources, staff, testing capacity, and personal protective equipment for homelessness providers to immediately address the needs of people experiencing homelessness in the Denver area. CCH also joined a letter to Governor Polis as a member of the Denver Homelessness Leadership Council (HLC) requesting action to increase the number of motel and hotel rooms available to people experiencing homelessness for isolation, recovery, and for high-risk individuals. Finally, CCH sent a letter directly to Governor Polis requesting immediate action to secure deployment of the national guard to de-densify current shelters in Denver and a request that the Governor exercise executive power to secure additional motel and hotel spaces for people experiencing homelessness across the state by whatever means necessary.
The State of Colorado through the Governor’s Office must immediately respond to the needs of people experiencing homelessness throughout the state. A recent report demonstrates that people experiencing homelessness who are infected with Coronavirus would be twice as likely to be hospitalized, two to four times as likely to require critical care, and two to three times as likely to die from the illness as the general population.
Unfortunately, we know that the COVID-19 virus is spreading among the population of people experiencing homelessness in the State of Colorado. In order to protect the vulnerable families and individuals experiencing homelessness across the state, CCH urges the community to demand that our Governor take immediate action. We cannot allow our community members who can’t “stay at home” during this public health crisis to disproportionally bear the burden of the COVID-19 outbreak. CCH stands ready to assist in this effort in every way possible.
About the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
The mission of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is to work collaboratively toward the prevention of homelessness and the creation of lasting solutions for people experiencing and at-risk of homelessness homeless throughout Colorado. The Coalition advocates for and provides a continuum of housing and a variety of services to improve the health, well-being and stability of those it serves. Since its founding more than 30 years ago, the organization has earned state and national recognition for its integrated healthcare, housing, and service programs. The Coalition’s comprehensive approach addresses the causes of homelessness, as well as the consequences, offering critical assistance to over 20,000 individuals and families each year. Learn more at www.coloradocoalition.org.