Helping our most-vulnerable populations in a pandemic The Chandler Arizonan

Helping our most-vulnerable populations in a pandemic

November 3rd, 2020 Chandler Arizona Staff
Helping our most-vulnerable populations in a pandemic
Opinion
0

By Mayor Kevin Hartke
Guest Writer

Providing housing options for our most at-risk populations is a high-priority in Chandler.

Prior to COVID-19, the need for low-barrier shelter for those experiencing chronic homelessness was high due to a variety of reasons, including pets, addiction and mental health.

Once COVID-19 hit, the need for shelter increased substantially due to the shelter space reduction to allow for social and physical distancing.

While residents were advised to quarantine and stay in their homes, our most vulnerable populations did not have this option.

Specifically, people experiencing unsheltered homelessness had no ability to shelter-in-place, putting both themselves and others at risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

To mitigate the growing issue, the City partnered with Maricopa County to utilize a block of hotel rooms for those experiencing homelessness to safely shelter-in-place.

“Every person needs a safe place to shelter-in-place. As a group, people experiencing homelessness are highly vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 because of their age and compromised health status resulting from lack of regular health care and repeated exposure to harsh weather,” said Chandler Community Resources Manager Riann Balch.

“This program provides that safe place and gives us the opportunity to really understand and address the barriers each individual is facing in their journey to housing. We’ve had great success so far and hope to be able to continue providing this level of service in the future.”

To date, over 50 households have been sheltered in the hotel rooms supported by Maricopa County and the City of Chandler.

Funding has been provided by the Maricopa County CARES Act funding and Federal Community Development Block Grant-Coronavirus funding. The hotel rooms will be utilized through Dec. 31, 2020 for shelter.

I am proud that our community continues to support all residents with innovative programs to ensure high quality of life for all who call Chandler home.

For more information, please visit chandleraz.gov/HomelessServices.

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