COVID-19 posing even bigger issue for state’s homeless population

COVID-19 posing even bigger issue for state's homeless population

BOSTON — Nearly half of the entire population at one Worcester emergency homeless shelter has tested positive for COVID-19.

South Middlesex Opportunity Council said those clients were largely asymptomatic. Between, April 9 and April 23, 237 homeless people were tested by the city. Ninety-one, or 38%, were COVID-19 positive​.

“I think shelters across the state are identifying this as an issue,” said SMOC Chief Program Director Susan Gentili. “That the overcrowding has been there for some time because of the lack of affordable housing, and so what can we do so we don’t return to those conditions?"

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On Monday night the city’s Board of Health voted to issue six isolation orders for people they say refused to quarantine after testing positive for the virus. Three were homeless and three were living in a low-rent boarding house.

Some advocates are concerned people who are homeless or close to it because of the state’s housing crisis will be unfairly targeted.

A spokesperson from City Manager Ed Augustus Jr’s office told Boston 25 News that 12 clients at the city’s temporary homeless shelters have secured more stable housing or been connected with residential treatment services.

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