Guide to Shelter-Based Programming

We know that many of our customers are stepping up to meet the needs of your community in new and courageous ways during the current crisis. For some, that means exploring the possibility of offering shelter-based programming for community members experiencing homelessness, or for some of your first responders or essential workers who need a rally point or quarantine site. Such programming is vital, and it is profoundly good. But effectively and safely meeting the needs of these individuals requires very specific expertise, resources and planning. This is especially true during an infectious disease pandemic.

Below are just some of the considerations that will need to be discussed. If you are asked to provide such services, it is critically important that you discuss your plan with your Redwoods consultant to make sure that you are fully prepared and covered.

Initial Considerations

  • First, are you the organization that is best placed to provide these services? Are there alternatives your organization can offer such as shower and laundry facilities instead of shelter-based care?
  • Second, we do not recommend running concurrent childcare for essential personnel and shelter-based care at the same location. The two operations require vastly different screening mechanisms and operational considerations. Any interaction between two separate programming participants could cause significant safety issues—especially during a time when social distancing is critical for health.
Contract and Reimbursement
  • What is the contract length, and have all contract terms been finalized in writing?
  • How frequently will the contract be reviewed, and has the review frequency also been finalized in writing?
  • Has a Certificate of Insurance been provided by the contracting organization?
  • If you are anticipating FEMA reimbursement you cannot turn anyone away. This is important because there is no way to screen those coming into your facility for past crimes, including registered sex offenders.
  • Be sure to outline the responsibilities of each party—including the resources each will provide—in the contract (e.g., security, staff, food, transportation, cleaning supplies, etc.).
Intake Procedures
  • Create inventory lists
  • Give a health check to those entering the facility. This includes a physical and mental health check, and should absolutely include screening for symptoms of COVID-19
  • Do you have staff or volunteer resources who can manage the health checks?
  • How will you be sourcing donations (food, clothing, hygiene products)?
  • If children are included in the shelter programming, will guardians be required to stay with children? Will they be separated from the adult population? Are robust measures in place to ensure child safety and abuse prevention? How will you ensure for their emotional and mental wellbeing?
  • Will the contracting party be providing police, security, or national guard?
  • What is your capacity? Per current CDC guidelines, maintain the rule of only 10 people in one room at a time.
  • Ensure that you have sufficient space, so that staff and residents can maintain six feet of distance at all times per current social distancing guidance.
  • Determine if regular health screenings will be necessary (i.e., daily temperature checks).
  • Set aside an isolation space for the sick until they can be transferred for medical care outside of the facility.
  • Exclude all guests that are not medical personnel or case workers.
  • Determine what areas of your facilities shelter guests will have access to.
    • Limit meeting spaces to 10 people only, encourage using outside spaces.
    • If at a camp, restrict access to waterfront, high ropes courses, or other potential high-risk equipment/areas.
    • If in a fitness facility, restrict access to pool, fitness floor, etc., unless you plan to staff and manage as per normal operations.
  • How will you keep the facility clean?
    • Set a schedule to check locker rooms
    • Increase facility sweeps, as needed
Note: Be prepared to address issues that are often seen in shelter environments such as, hygiene, sexual activity, violence and theft, and mental health issues due to stress, lack of medication or environmental factors.
  • Is there adequate public transportation around your site?
  • Is transportation to/from the site outlined in the contract?
  • If someone needs transportation, how will you provide this?