Category Archives: COVID

COVID News

COVID-19 Housing Resources Roundtable

Join the Housing Coalition of the Northern Shenandoah Valley for a roundtable discussion and sharing of resources for housing assistance during this COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, Aug 25, 2020 09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada) .

Come hear from local agencies about the services they provide and prepare to listen, learn and if you have additional resources to share participation is welcomed.

The meeting will be via zoom. The event is FREE, but registration is REQUIRED. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. More details below.

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Tuesday, Aug 25, 2020 09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUvf-mqrD0rEtLtXs6cA9ZfbyjAY65YSEo0 

State Funding Awarded For COVID-19

WESTERN VIRGINIA CONTINUUM OF CARE AWARDED STATE FUNDING FOR COVID-19 RELATED EMERGENCY SHELTER & HOUSING SUPPORT

This spring and summer, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) awarded the Western Virginia Continuum of Care (CoC) funding to support housing and shelter programs for those most vulnerable during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic through DHCD’s COVID Homelessness Emergency Response Program (CHERP). The goals of CHERP are first, ensuring “access to safe, 24/7, emergency shelter” for those experiencing homelessness and second, helping “households maintain or obtain permanent housing and receive the housing-focused supportive services necessary to retain permanent housing.” To date, the Western Virginia CoC has received $657,294 through CHERP funding awards.

The funding from DHCD’s CHERP provides financial support for emergency shelter operations (included hotel/motel vouchers) and rapid re-housing programs throughout the CoC. Nine regional agencies have received funding and included: in Front Royal, Northwestern Community Services Board and The Thermal Shelter of Front Royal; in Harrisonburg, First Step, Mercy House, Open Doors, and Our Community Place; in Winchester, AIDS Response Effort and Winchester Rescue Mission; and in Woodstock, Shenandoah Alliance for Shelter. These agencies have worked closely with the CoC Lead Agency (Harrisonburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority), government officials, and other organizations in their respective localities to continue providing emergency shelter options and housing support services during the pandemic.

The Western Virginia Continuum of Care (CoC) is a collaboration of nonprofits, governments, schools, hospitals, law enforcement, and community members that works to prevent and end homelessness in the Shenandoah Valley. The CoC area includes Clarke, Frederick, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren counties, and the cities of Harrisonburg and Winchester.

CoC COVID-19 Funding through DHCD

On April 2, 2020, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) informed the Western Virginia Continuum of Care (CoC) that funding had been allocated to the CoC in the amount of $123,251.76 for COVID-19 support. The CoC Executive Committee established funding priorities as:

  • Unsheltered individuals
  • Sheltered individuals with no daytime shelter
  • Unsheltered/sheltered individuals with COVID-19 symptoms awaiting testing and/or in need of isolation arrangements
  • Thermal shelters

The Executive Committee has determined to utilize the bulk of the funds to support thermal shelter operations in Winchester, Warren County, and Harrisonburg. Funds will also be designated for hotel/motel vouchers to be administered throughout the CoC. Vouchers will be prioritized “for persons who are particularly vulnerable for complications due to COVID-19 including unsheltered persons, older adults, and those with an existing medical condition. If existing shelter space is unavailable or not appropriate, hotel/motel vouchers may be used to provide overflow temporary shelter, separation (for persons with symptoms of COVID-19 while awaiting test results or those who are particularly vulnerable for complications due to COVID-19), or isolation (for persons who are confirmed positive for COVID-19 but who do not need hospitalization).”

Arrangements are being worked out with various groups across the CoC to ensure that services can be administered to support the sheltered and unsheltered individuals within our Continuum of Care. Thank you all for the work that you are doing in your agencies and communities to help serve our vulnerable populations in this time.

CoC measures to curb the spread of COVID-19

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), families and individuals experiencing homelessness are more vulnerable to infectious diseases due to lack of access to primary care, mobility, and poor health status from extended episodes of homelessness. Here are a few one-pagers from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concerning the novel Coronavirus known as COVID-19, to make available to residents:

Additionally, HUD released an Infectious Disease Preparedness webinar and a toolkit for CoCs to provide structure and specific examples for planning and responding to influenza, Coronavirus, and other infectious diseases. The toolkit consists of three documents that provide information for CoC leadership, homeless service providers, and partners to utilize when planning for and responding to infectious diseases:

Effective March 16, 2020, the Western Virginia CoC will be moving toward active social distancing which entails reducing person-to-person contact. The CoC is working to purchase video conferencing software so meetings can be held virtually rather than in-person. We are monitoring coronavirus updates and may arrange a virtual planning meeting among services providers if cases of the disease escalates in our region. We will also work to have a health department representative speak at the next CoC meeting (April 9), which will be virtual. Furthermore, we strongly encourage service providers (especially emergency shelters) to develop a contigency plan for their agency that works to minimize the spread of the virus and prepare for the possibility of an outbreak. Some questions to consider when creating your plan include:

  • How are you currently communicating with your stakeholders to address COVID-19 concerns?
  • What are you doing and can you do to minimize the possibility of an outbreak in your agency? (e.g. sanitation, education, social distancing, flexible leave policies, etc.)
  • What would you do if an outbreak occurred? Can you address an outbreak if it occurs?
  • How would you communicate about an outbreak to clients, stakeholders, the community?
  • What resources and arrangements will you need to be able to deal with an outbreak?

Additionally, the Western Virginia CoC strongly encourages service providers to contact their local public health departments, Healthcare for the Homeless agencies, and other local health partners to ensure the unique needs and opportunities related to the homeless service system are incorporated. HUD is also available to provide technical assistance to our homeless assistance providers who need support in preventing or responding to the spread of infectious disease. Please submit your questions to the Ask A Question (AAQ) portal with “Health Preparedness and Response” in the subject line.

Best,

Michael Wong

Executive Director, Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority