Homeless facilities on voluntary quarantine

Haven House Transitional Living Center in Olathe is now closed to outside visitors and staffers are working remotely as the facility has gone into voluntary quarantine.

As part of efforts to curb the risk of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus-2019), facilities that provide shelter for homeless people have gone into self-isolation.

No major issues have cropped up since the Montrose Lighthouse, an emergency overnight shelter that usually operates until April, and Haven House Transitional Living Center, which serves homeless families, implemented lockdown procedures, organizers said.

“We’re getting stir crazy, but so far, everyone is holding up. Hopefully, this won’t go on too much longer,” said Larry Fredericksen, co-founder of Haven House.

Haven House operates near Olathe, offering homeless families dorm-style shelter and tailored support programs intended to help them break the cycle of housing insecurity.

In wake of COVID-19 fears and restrictions, Haven House has halted the admission of outside visitors, and only those clients who need to go to work leave the facility. (Guests continue to have access to the outdoors.)

Lighthouse implemented its own lockdown procedures last week. It is not allowing new overnight guests and those who were admitted prior to the cutoff date have to either stay put, or surrender their bed spot until the charity lifts its quarantine. Guests are allowed to spend time outside.

“We haven’t had any incidents,” said board member Garey Martinez. “We have plenty of food, lots of sanitation.”

Martinez also operates Shepherd’s Hand, which distributes food to anyone in need Mondays, Thursdays and now, Saturdays, at the Cedar Creek Church, 222 S. Townsend Ave., between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Shepherd’s Hand is able to purchase commodities through Food Bank of the Rockies. The charity is also assisting the United Methodist Church in brown bag dinners on Sunday nights.

About 50 people are currently at Haven House; 35 of them are children who, because schools are closed, have been receiving course instruction through the staff members that are able to come to work.

Haven House is continuing its Early Childhood and K-12 programs. Its director of education, Kelsey West, is using a program she designed along with the schools for that purpose.

Fredericksen said most staffers are staying home, however, and a few of the residents have stepped in to help make sure the transitional living center operates smoothly. Case managers are connecting with families via Skype.

“Most of our staff have stayed home because of their concern about bringing something in, or taking something home. … They’ve been running Haven House from the phones and their internet,” Fredericksen said.

Haven House is equipped with a good security system, he added, and both the security guard and the building manager remain onsite.

Hygiene and sanitation protocols are also in place, to include proper hand washing techniques and disinfecting highly populated areas and surfaces used more frequently.

The center is well stocked with food and supplies at this time, Fredericksen, although he worries about donations falling as the economy takes a hit from the COVID-19 restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus. It is thought that taking steps to prevent a mass outbreak will prevent health care facilities from being overwhelmed with more patients than they can treat.

As far as the food supply, Haven House’s manager has been picking up lunches for kids each day through the Montrose County School District and making weekly trips to Sharing Ministries Food Bank and Cedar Creek Church. Further, a restaurant that closed under state orders donated Haven House the food it could no longer use.

“The community has been great. We have plenty of supplies, food and everything else we need to run the operation,” Fredericksen said.

“ … It’s better than I expected,” he said of the quarantine. “ … So far, so good.”

For information about donating to Haven House, visit havenhousehomelessorg. For information about Shepherd’s Hand, contact Martinez at 970-433-3690.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

Load comments