Amidst rising numbers of cases across Arizona, it is imperative that we continue to be able to give safe and separate shelter to those who have nowhere else to go. But these hotels and the restructuring of our operations, though extremely effective, has had an unimaginable financial strain on this agency.
We know that racial inequity is a dominant and shameful narrative that permeates all areas of American life – and social and housing services agencies are not exempt from this. By transforming the way we care for diverse individuals experiencing homelessness, Flagstaff Shelter Services aims to provide services that are effective, efficient, and equitable.
In our latest round of testing for COVID-19 for our clients and staff, the numbers of positive tests had reduced SIGNIFICANTLY from the previous round. This means that we are on the right track- that providing hotel rooms and finding permanent housing for our neighbors experiencing homelessness to quarantine themselves is the best and most immediate way for us to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Life looks different for so many around the world as we change and evolve in response to COVID-19. For Flagstaff Shelter Services, our primary concern has been to reduce the number of people sleeping in our group shelter – which has a newly expanded capacity of 170 – down to a number that allows us to follow CDC guidelines for social distancing as much as a group-shelter possibly can. So we started renting blocks of rooms at local hotels, and transitioned all of our senior citizens and medically vulnerable clients to their own individual rooms.