Shelters face unique challenges this winter to protect the homeless
Homeless and emergency shelters are preparing for a plunge in temperatures this weekend, and they face special challenges during the pandemic.
"The idea of someone being outside and unsheltered versus being socially distanced, you have to look at the benefit of providing that safety and security," said Erin Prochnow, CEO of YWCA Cass Clay.
Ahead of bitter temperatures, the YWCA is allowing roommates again, after only having private rooms during the pandemic.
The shelter is also building seven private bathrooms with money from the city.
The bathrooms will allow the shelter to have seven quarantine rooms of COVID-19 positive residents, so women and children escaping domestic violence don't have to move twice.
"They are already facing significant crisis and trauma and we don't want to add to that," said Prochnow
For shelters that don't have quarantine spaces, the city of Fargo began admitting people to the new emergency quarantine and isolation space for the homeless.
"Once this hit our population they are very scared and they think this is just a death sentence," said Jillian Gould, Homeless Outreach Coordinator with the Harm Reduction Division of Fargo Cass Public Health.
Seven people have used the space since November 11, but the city thinks numbers are about to go up.
"We are currently very short-staffed so we are really trying to hone in on our hiring process so we can be running as efficiently as possible to make sure folks are safe," said Gould.
Once they have the staff, they will be creating an engagement center, as the usual spaces for the homeless to keep warm are closed in the pandemic.
"The library for example, or the salvation army for lunch, they can't go inside for meals," said Gould.
So people have a place to go to stay warm.
The Homeless Outreach Coordinator for Fargo says the New Life Center will be adding a new overflow space to help spread out residents.