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COVID-19 outbreaks cause 2 Lansing homeless shelters to limit operations

Posted at 8:38 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 20:38:12-04

Covid-19 outbreaks in two Lansing homeless shelters — Lansing City Rescue Mission and New Hope Community Center — are causing them to temporarily limit their operations.

The City Rescue Mission suspended services at their women and children's shelter after seven people tested positive last week. That number is now up to 10.

Sharon Dade, director of New Hope Community Center, said she cannot pinpoint their exact number of cases as it are constantly changing, but she said they decided to shelter in place after they had 20 positive cases at one time.

While these two shelters are not taking new guests at this time, they both plan to continue services for their current guests.

"The thought just was, we want to make sure that we're not introducing people into a situation until we're fully aware of how we're going to handle it and make sure that things are operating smoothly," said Laura Grimwood, senior director of communications at Lansing City Rescue Mission.

The Rescue Mission is still allowing new guests at their men's only facility.

Dade said New Hope's shelter in place suggestion, which still allows guests to leave for essential activities like work or important appointments, can be stressful for some.

"I think it's always something uncomfortable," Dade said."No one wants to be suggested that they have to stay in one place, and we serve a very transient population. But for the most part, our residents have been very cooperative with us. They may not like it, but they do understand it."

Grimwood said these closures could have negative effects on the community.

"Unfortunately, we are pretty much the largest shelter for women and children in our community," Grimwood said. "And so if we're limited on how many we can take in, that can cause some challenges for the need that we're seeing in our neighborhoods."

Dade said she worries about how future COVID-19 outbreaks could affect these shelters and the people they serve.

"There's definitely some planning at the community level that needs to happen to determine what happens when we don't have capacity anymore," Dade said. "And, with COVID, of course, sometimes we are operating at a reduced capacity just because we don't have isolation rooms. That's not what we're set up to do."

The City Rescue Mission of Lansing is temporarily not admitting new guests
Lansing City Rescue Mission is temporarily not admitting new guests

New Hope Community Center will continue to help community members with things like eviction prevention services, assistance with Social Security benefits and other social services.

Lansing City Rescue Mission's plan is to quarantine current guests and start admitting new guests after their guests have tested negative for COVID-19 for two weeks.

New Hope Community Center will remain closed to non-residents, the public, and volunteers until Nov. 1.

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