COVID Prevention Spaces provide a way to protect people who are homeless to enable them to “stay at home.”
When Philadelphians first began to test positive for COVID-19, officials across multiple City agencies coordinated efforts to secure hotel rooms as temporary shelters for people experiencing homelessness who are at high-risk for hospitalization should they contract the virus. High-risk includes seniors 65+ and/or those suffering from certain chronic illnesses identified by the CDC.
Two COVID Prevention Spaces opened in the Spring to provide short-term protective housing to people who were homeless, elderly, and health-compromised to protect them from potentially contracting the virus in congregate sites. The hotel rooms were established to help prevent the spread of the virus in our communities and keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. Since April, 260 vulnerable people resided at the sites.
What’s next for residents
Because federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) expires at the end of December 2020, the initial program locations are scheduled to close. But to be clear: the City is keeping its word to provide everyone at the COVID Prevention Spaces with a long-term housing option – a place of their own.
All COVID Prevention Space guests are being offered safe, permanent affordable housing opportunities that meet their needs, along with critical support services. Additionally, everyone has a dedicated housing case manager who can help in navigating resources for health care, food, and other social services programs.
The City is working around the clock to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible as units continue to be identified, inspected, and made move-in ready. Housing case managers have been helping guests obtain IDs, income, and documentation. Transportation to new homes is provided. Furniture and TVs will be made available at no cost to all.
If they can’t move into their new place by the time these COVID Prevention Sites close, we are offering them new, safe community-based COVID Prevention Sites temporarily while they continue to work on their long-term housing.
No one is being made homeless.
No one is being put out on the streets.
Everyone has been and continues to be offered long-term housing.
The City’s Commitment: Safe, permanent affordable housing options
We know that long-term housing ends homelessness. Transitioning current guests in COVID Prevention Spaces to safe, permanent housing is just one important step we’re taking towards renewing our commitment to ending homelessness in Philadelphia – all while protecting our most vulnerable neighbors from the virus.
The City has made a commitment to prioritize the needs of guests currently in COVID Prevention Spaces for long-term housing, especially those who are extremely susceptible to the virus.
The City created nearly 300 new housing opportunities in single-room occupancies, PHA conventional housing, housing choice vouchers, and other City- and federally funded subsidy programs. Guest choice is a top priority. Sometimes people receive up to three options so they can get the best fit available.
We aren’t just bringing people inside – we’re giving them a home.