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Our COVID-19 Response

March 1, 2020: the first two cases of the novel coronavirus in Rhode Island announced.

March 2, 2020: the Coalition had its first formal planning meeting for the COVID-19 response. Jenn Barrera, HMIS Administrator, Melissa Cruz, Community Programs Manager, and Angelina Denomme, Communication & Engagement Coordinator, met in a small conference room to pour over articles on how past homeless systems handled outbreaks of  previous SARS viruses. We made a game plan of meetings we needed to be in, contingency plans that needed to be made, and groups that needed to be involved. The Coalition went remote for a week to prepare for what we saw to be an impending reality of social distancing.

March 9, 2020: Back in the office, the Gov. Raimondo declares a state of emergency.

March 13, 2020: the Coalition went fully remote and has stayed that way for the last year and the response truly begins. What follows is a list of the Coalition’s COVID-19 Response.

Provider Calls

Facilitated & organized a provider-wide call 7-days a week starting March 16th. This call was pivotal in coordinating resources, responses, and communicating needs. Calls dropped to 5 days a week, then 3 days—now, The Wednesday Call is every other week.

Landlord Challenge

Helped organize and market the Landlord Challenge, which was introduced by RI Commerce Department and former-Governor Gina Raimondo. The program housed 85 people thanks to the tireless efforts of case managers at Amos House and Crossroads RI.

Vaccine Advocacy & Distribution

Organized the vaccine distribution in partnership with the Department of Health and The Wellness Company in order to vaccinate any person experiencing homelessness who wanted it. In just over a month we fully vaccinated over 500 people in our system. Over 300 front-line staff also vaccinated.

Staffs the State Homeless Response Team (HRT)

Staffs the Homeless Response Team—a State-sanctioned working group to coordinate and advocate for the Homeless System’s needs and the State’s resources.

Shelter Cleaning

The Coalition manages a shelter cleaning program, which debuted on April 23, 2020. Regular (professional) cleanings helped to reduce the spread of the virus in these congregate settings as well as freed up capacity for shelter staff to focus on providing superb care.

Supply Procurement & Distribution

Purchased, solicited & organized donations, and delivered a vast array of goods including PPE and home goods (furniture, household items) to those currently experiencing homelessness or those who recently moved into a new apartment. Served a bulk purchaser & distributer to shelters during times where limited supply of essentials strained.

Emergency Shelter

June–September 2020 the Coalition managed the FEMA hotel program, which de-congregated shelters.

From December 2020 to September 2021 (when the program switched vendors), the Coalition began another hotel program to provide emergency shelter to the crisis-level number of people who are experiencing homeless without shelter.

Mobile Testing

In late March 2020, mass testing in partnership with Lifespan began in shelters. By June the Coalition was organizing a mobile testing unit in partnership with the Department of Health and area shelters. Mobile testing regularly tests participating shelters and residents to identify and isolate positive cases before outbreaks occur.

Policy Advocacy

Held information webinars on stimulus checks, advocated for eviction moratoriums, vied for federal leadership support for CARES Act funding, and more! 

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