• Erica Smith

Don’t pass out pizza at the library...and still help people who are homeless

With the weather starting to warm soon, we will see more people who are homeless staying outside. There are a lot of reasons for that and we must have compassion. However, this year with the COVID-19 event it’s important that everyone does their part to protect people who are homeless by knowing what resources are available and what not to do.

1. All shelters in Springfield are offering 24-hour “shelter in place” accommodations.

All emergency shelters have extended their shelter hours (if they didn’t already do so) to provide food, showers, and day areas for people and families who are there. Shelters are not forcing people to stay in, but they are strongly encouraging people to leave the premises only for necessary reasons (medical appointments, work, etc.) and have put precautions in place for everyone.

It’s really hard. Imagine an additional 50 people in your house until this is over, and you can understand the sacrifice people who are homeless are making. But they are, and doing so willingly – because they are just as concerned as everyone else about doing their part to flatten the curve.

We’re trying to make things as pleasant as possible in a difficult time because we want people to stay in shelter as much as possible.

2. Understand that there will be people who stay outside.

There are people, who for reasons of their own, will stay outside as soon as they can. You may see them or you may not if they live in encampments.

Our local Heartland Continuum of Care, which is a group of agencies who all serve people who are homeless or at risk, are joining together with medical professionals, law enforcement, experienced individuals, and public health to coordinate an outreach response to people who are outside.

They are being noticed and their social, physical, health, and basic needs are being planned for during this time.


If you want to help….

Please do not organize outreach on your own or with a group, particularly if you plan to distribute food or items.

We appreciate how generous and kind the Springfield community is. However, at this time you may inadvertently be causing harm, not helping, by visiting people and passing out items, food, or money. Please refrain from organizing your own effort.

An outreach effort is happening from people who have the experience and skills to handle the situation. We are helping people who need it and checking in on them to make sure they’re okay.

If COVID-19 infects our population of people who are homeless, it will spread rapidly and be devastating. The highest risk is interaction with people coming in from the outside – so please, practice social distancing at this time. We want to encourage people to shelter inside where they are protected, and where they can be monitored for COVID-19 symptoms to receive immediate care if it is needed.

Donate money or wish list items to your organization of choice.

Find an organization or individual who has experience with homeless outreach, shelter, or housing, and give money to them. Almost all organizations also have Facebook pages and websites with wish lists. Ask them what they need and help. We are grateful for your support right now – our staff, our budgets, and our supplies are strained. You can do a lot of good by supporting the experienced individuals and agencies who are ensuring all people experiencing homelessness are safe and cared for.

THANK YOU for your prayers, your support, and your cooperation at this time. Let’s commit to flatten the curve, and protect the lives and health, of all our neighbors.

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