update

Preble Street COVID-19 Action Plan and Policy Recommendations

March 16, 2020

Preble Street is committed to the safety of clients, staff, and volunteers while providing essential emergency services to people in need. We are closely monitoring the situation and following protocols of local, state, and federal experts on the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Our priority is to stay true to our mission, keep our essential programs open, and keep our clients, volunteers, and staff safe.

Last night the CDC announced it was recommending no gatherings of more than 50 people, and we are working to make that happen at Preble Street. However, at our largest soup kitchen, we serve 300 people at each meal, and on any given night 400-500 men, women, and children are homeless in Portland. Last night the City of Portland Oxford Street Shelter took in 174 men and women, and Preble Street sheltered 64 women and teens.

Countless messages implore people to stay home. But what about people without a home?

At our shelters, soup kitchens, and drop-in centers , we welcome people indoors to be fed, sheltered, and safe. But in doing so we’re extremely concerned about the unintended consequences related to this rapidly spreading virus.

The people we serve are among the most vulnerable and immunocompromised in our community, and there needs to be an immediate and concerted COVID-19 response to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness right now.

Preble Street is making some changes to its services, and we are making recommendations for elected officials and the public health infrastructure at the local, state, and federal levels.

WHAT PREBLE STREET IS DOING AT ITS PROGRAMS

  • Keeping essential services open
    • Joe Kreisler Teen Shelter and Teen Center drop-in
    • Florence House women’s shelter and apartments
    • Logan Place
    • Huston Commons
    • Food Programs
    • Resource Center targeted services
  • Requiring any person who enters any facility to wash their hands immediately
  • Utilizing the City of Portland shelter quarantine at one of their facilities for people in our shelter or soup kitchen who are awaiting test results
  • Sanitizing all frequently used surfaces on a regular basis, including bathrooms, phones, and other contacted surfaces
  • Distributing hand sanitizer dispensers at all building entrances and throughout programs
  • Distributing COVID-19 and health/hygiene informational posters throughout all programs
  • Limiting guests at Housing First programs
  • Moving beds in shelters to ensure clients are sleeping as far apart as possible
  • Consulting public health resources to explore taking temperatures of clients upon arrival
  • Sending regular updates to volunteers and requiring volunteers to self-select and suspend their service if they have traveled abroad

Following recommendation of infectious disease specialists, we are also instituting a “rolling meals” plan at the Resource Center Soup Kitchen effective March 17

  • We are expanding our meal schedule to two hours per meal
  • Staff will ensure that no more than 50 people are inside at a single time
  • Staff will help people move in and out in a safe and timely fashion
  • Staff will not permit people who are housed in the soup kitchen: If supplies allow, we will provide “to go” packaged meals
  • To staff the new meal service, we will transition some social work staff from the Resource Center drop-in to the soup kitchen, and thus will need to limit drop-in services to targeted services only
  • We are exploring the use of disposable cutlery/dishware and packaged food

RECOMMENDATIONS

We are calling on elected and public officials and the public health infrastructure at local, state, and federal levels to work with us on the following recommendations:

  • Open three new temporary prevention shelters to disperse guests and prevent overcrowding
    • Consider using the Portland Expo
    • Consider using other government and privately owned facilities
    • Preble Street can contribute an empty building it recently purchased
  • Implement a robust plan for quarantining people who test positively: The current quarantine plan for this population is limited and needs to be expanded
  • Enact a moratorium on evictions
  • Ensure General Assistance for rent and food is robust and accessible and that regulations are thoroughly publicized so fewer people need to resort to shelters and soup kitchens

Are there other nonprofits or local developers that have space or resources they can bring to the table? Are there people in our community right now who can make decisions and help?

WHERE PREBLE STREET NEEDS HELP RIGHT NOW

  • We need volunteers!
    Signing up is quick and easy right online — preblestreet.org/volunteer — or contact Volunteer Manager Ali Brauner: 207-775-0026 x1162 / abrauner@preblestreet.org
  • We need donations of food supplies
    Bring donations to the Resource Center Soup Kitchen, 252 Oxford Street, Volunteer Entrance (ring the bell) — 7 days a week, 7am-6pm