There was a quiet, almost mellow, feel at the new Sullivan Wellness Shelter at the University of Southern Maine on a recent afternoon when I stopped by to check out how things were going there. A few clients were playing cards – at a safe distance, around a large table – a couple others were reading or watching TV, and one or two others were resting on their cots. It almost felt serene to me.
What a dramatic change from the crowded and hectic shelters and soup kitchens that were the norm for most people experiencing homelessness just a few weeks ago. Like just about everything else in the world, providing services to people experiencing homelessness in our community has had to change quickly in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. Very quickly.