Homeless resident, Joe Penrose, holds empty tray as he makes his way down the food line at Utah’s Place. Photo by Nicole Lescher of Hospitality House.

Hospitality House staff implemented its emergency action plan earlier this month for pandemic flu prevention to lessen the likelihood of illness. Staff continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 outbreak, along with safety measures and best practices set forth by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Service.

Hospitality House provides emergency shelter for up to 69 people every night. However, last week, the shelter proactively altered its operations by safely relocating its most medically fragile and at-risk homeless population into motels, a task completed in partnership with Nevada County Public Health. Through the utilization of motel vouchers made available by the County’s Office of Emergency Services grant, these individuals are now receiving isolated shelter and care, and are under advisory to stay indoors with help provided from staff. This shift to motels has expanded Hospitality House’s ability to shelter additional people who were previously on the streets, while still providing services in collaboration with community partners. This move also helps to maintain social distancing of at least 6-feet is adhered at the physical shelter, Utah’s Place.

“In times of crisis, we aren’t decreasing our services—we’re expanding them out of absolute necessity,” said Nancy Baglietto, Executive Director of Hospitality House. “This virus affects everyone. No one is immune and now more than ever before we need to come together to protect our entire community.”

Hospitality House is now operating its emergency shelter and programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week at four locations: Utah’s Place and three motels with the likelihood of increasing motel utilization in the coming weeks. Individuals are receiving onsite supervision, case management, hygiene necessities, food, and a place to stay throughout the day and evening. Hospitality House has become an around the clock operation. The Homeless Outreach and Medical Engagement team aka HOME, a collaborative partnership between Hospitality House, County of Nevada Behavioral Health, Turning Point Community Programs and AMI Housing, is helping with food delivery to motels as well as Hospitality House’s Homeless Access Transportation (HAT) van, a service made possible by County of Nevada and United Way of Nevada County. Food is graciously being donated by the Nevada County Food Bank, Interfaith Food Ministry, SPD Markets, Briar Patch Food Co-op, off-site cook groups, Lake Wildwood Community Association, individual donors, and several local restaurants, including The Oaks Clubhouse, Pete’s Pizza and Friar Tuck’s.

HOME and HAT have also expanded their outreach services on the street to include:

  • Reaching out to campers to encourage hygiene by providing free sanitation kits.
  • Educating homeless individuals on hygiene and prevention strategies.
  • Identifying individuals who may be symptomatic and directing them to appropriate treatment.
  • Utilizing motel vouchers for shelter and/or quarantine as needed.

Additional preventive measures include:

  • Sanitizing the shelter with disinfectant frequently throughout the day (all doors, floors, beds, common areas, etc.)
  • Directing all persons in the shelter to frequently wash their hands with hot soapy water for 20 seconds.
  • Adhering to Public Health’s social distancing guidelines throughout the shelter and directing guests to remain 6-feet from each other.
  • Modifying dinner service into three separate seatings to ensure there are no more than 16 guests in the dining room at a time, all spaced 6-feet apart.
  • Canceling all public and private tours of the shelter until further notice.
  • Accepting urgently needed items for the shelter outside only (no inside access) and sanitizing these items before utilization.
  • Reducing (and in some case eliminating) volunteerism to reduce possible exposure.
  • Adhering to shelter-in-place best practices.
  • Establishing quarantine environment plans with County of the Nevada.

The public is encouraged to help expand the safety efforts of Hospitality House. With hundreds of people being served daily, the following items are being utilized in large quantities. Individuals who can donate one or two items will make a difference. Urgently needed items to slow the spread of coronavirus include:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Airborne
  • Emergen C
  • Disposable cleaning gloves
  • Disinfectant soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Financial support to purchase supplies and provide services to folks in crisis

Items arriving at the shelter should be sealed and may be dropped off outside at the front entrance of our shelter at 1262 Sutton Way. Items will be disinfected before taken inside. For a tax receipt, please ring the doorbell. Financial support can be made online at hhshelter.org/donate or mail your donation to Hospitality House at 1262 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945.

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