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Saturday July 11, 2020
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For the first time in its history, the Shelter Association has no one on its wait list

Emergency funding and a temporary shelter nipped a Covid-19 outbreak in the bud.

by Maggie McMillin

Published in June, 2020

The Shelter Association of Washtenaw County never closed during the Covid-19 shutdown. Instead, it's expanded its reach since the onset of the pandemic.

This time of year, the Delonis Center's waitlist is usually between 50-60 people long. This year, they have not turned away anyone in need of housing. They are currently providing shelter for 160 individuals.

The Shelter Association quickly increased capacity in March by utilizing the downtown Delonis Center as well as temporary off-site housing locations. This made social distancing possible, and along with 30 new staff members and the completion of over 17,000 health screenings, it has prevented an outbreak of Covid. Executive director Daniel Kelly says the success so far is a testament to guests and their desire to stay in place, and notes that one guest makes face masks from air filters and distributes them among people in the shelter. He also credits the "constant collaboration" between staff, guests, and local partners such as the Washtenaw County Health Department.

With an effective system now in place, SAWC is shifting its focus from adapting to Covid-19 guidelines to finding permanent housing for as many guests as possible. "The goal is always ending homelessness," Kelly says. With the possibility of a second wave of Covid in the fall and an anticipated increase in demand for shelter in winter months, there are more challenges to come. The shelter faces "huge unbudgeted expenses due to Covid" but continues to provide essential, public health-minded assistance to people experiencing homelessness in Washtenaw County.

To support the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, you can donate money or buy items from their Amazon wishlist. They are also accepting a limited number of qualified volunteers (for example, people with nursing experience). Contact SAWC on Facebook for details.     (end of article)


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