‘You can’t tell a homeless person to self-isolate’: Shelters make changes to help the homeless

BOSTON — The streets of Boston haven’t had the usual hustle and bustle since the pandemic began, but for some, the streets are home.

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“What’s challenging about that population is that you cannot tell a homeless person to self-isolate,” said Representative Jon Santiago who is also an emergency room physician at Boston Medical Center.

When it comes to finding shelter or safety during the pandemic, the homeless population faces continued challenges and changes.

Rosie’s Place is a women’s shelter focused on providing a safe environment for poor and homeless women. At this facility, the doors are still open but precautions have been put in place.

'They are going to be medically screened and we want to make sure we are getting accurate temperature reads," said Leemarie Mosca, the President and Executive Director of Rosie’s Place.

Women who come to Rosie’s Place can still sit for a meal, take showers, use the phone, and enjoy quiet time.

“They don’t have the option of staying safe at home. Since we are that home for them, it’s our responsibility to ensure that it’s safe here,” said Mosca.

Boston Field Hospital is one of several places serving the homeless population who are sick with COVID-19.

“For Boston it was I think 36% of people tested, had tested positive and I believe in a large shelter in Worcester, I think 43% of the shelter residents had tested positive,” said Kelly Turley, the Associate Director of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.

Some shelters are looking for ways to implement social distancing guidelines by limiting the number of people allowed or finding new spaces.

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The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless says about 19,000 people in the state are experiencing homelessness.

You can find a list of resources for the homeless here.

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