Now, more than ever, housing is healthcare. Each night, more than 2,000 young people with nowhere else to go will find safety under a Covenant House roof. We cannot send these youth home, because Covenant House is their home.
People facing homelessness are more susceptible to the coronavirus, and they are also likely to get much sicker or die than people who are stably housed. One doctor said the coronavirus has a transmission rate above 80% in households, adding that homeless shelters are like “giant households,” which means that if a resident is infected, the virus is likely to spread quickly to others.
Youth facing homelessness confront many of the same adversities as adults, but they are still developing physically, cognitively, psychologically, and emotionally, and the risks and trauma can have long-lasting effects. They often lack health insurance, so these problems go unchecked, medication is beyond their reach, and even a minor untreated infection can morph into a major health emergency. They have to prioritize survival above all else: nutrition is not top of mind and they eat when, where and what they can.
We are focused on ensuring that the youth in our care are safe and secure, and have implemented protocols to care for youth experiencing symptoms. These include establishing quarantine spaces, revising our intake process with guidance from the CDC, ensuring a safe distance between beds, more frequently disinfecting common areas, distributing cleaning and hygiene materials to youth and staff, a temporary suspension of all visitors, and an emergency staffing protocol to ensure coverage while keeping our team safe. Our health clinics are preparing to assess and/or test symptomatic youth as a first action before sending them to the local ER.
We continue to provide as much on-site youth programming as possible for young people who are sheltering in place, including additional mental health programming for those experiencing heightened anxiety as a consequence of the outbreak.
Young people facing homelessness need us now more than ever, and each dollar you raise through Sleep Out America will help Covenant House meet their immediate needs during the COVID-19 emergency.
With so many youth in our building 24/7, we are seeing increased costs in food and staffing, in addition to the increased expenses associated with the extensive emergency preparedness measures now in place. Covenant House is primarily funded by donations, and so we are also experiencing a decline in revenue as fundraising events are cancelled.
Sleep Out America has never been a more powerful way to advocate for kids in crisis. You can participate from home, as a family or on your own, and raise critical funds that will be put to immeditate use.