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Commissioner Garcia understands there are vulnerable populations we cannot leave behind during this pandemic. Our team is working on several initiatives that would support our homeless and ensure they have the resources they need during this time. Here are some ways we are supporting:

  • On Tuesday Commissioners Court approved a city-county joint program to serve vulnerable individuals who lack the means or ability to engage in social isolation or quarantine in response to COVID-19. This facility will serve individuals that are (A) awaiting test results, or (B) have tested positive for COVID-19 and do not need intensive medical attention. This program will not serve those experiencing acute medical symptoms, as they will be referred to local hospitals. Commissioner Garcia wants to ensure we are taking care of the most vulnerable populations in our community.
  • We are also working with the City of Houston Mayor to secure 2 sites (utilities included), which would provide 186 units.  The leases are currently being finalized. The City has also identified an initial testing location/provider and will provide transportation of clients to and from the facility, PPE supplies, and security with HPD resources. Harris County will be providing the operations of this program.  This will include, but not limited to, administering quarantine/isolation guidelines and measures, monitoring clients, providing for the medical and mental health needs of the clients, foodservice and supplies, managing intake and discharge, custodial services, etc. We are in the process of identifying and securing an operator for this facility.
  • Parallel to this plan, Harris County Public Health and the Office of Emergency Management is working to get up and running a large regional Federal Medical Station (FMS). This facility will service the homeless community as well as the general public with medical attention, shelter, food, and wrap-around services.
  • In an effort to help promote hygiene and reduce the spread of COVID-19, we have identified 7 areas throughout the unincorporated parts of Harris County with a high density of homeless individuals to place handwashing stations. The County is in the process of securing the equipment.
  • We are also working closely with the Coalition for the Homeless, Homeless Service Providers, and the Sheriff’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) to make sure we are providing information on best practices and how to continue providing services to the homeless population in a safe manner. In addition to information, we are also working to secure hygiene/sanitary supplies, donations of clean socks and garments, food and water to be distributed by service providers and the HOT team to the homeless population.

On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, Commissioners Court passed Commissioner Adrian Garcia's request for additional funding to operate the Homeless Medical Isolation and Recovery Center. The intent of the Homeless Medical Isolation and Recovery Center is to ensure the homeless not in need of hospital care, but are positive for COVID-19, have a location to isolate and recover and do so in a manner that prevents further transmission of COVID-19. Additional funding will cover:

    • Support for two contracts:
      • Operations & Monitoring
        • Operations: include 24-hour patient management and monitoring, medical professionals on-site including a physician, and facility management 
        • Monitoring: will ensure everything is done in compliance with federal regulations to secure reimburse payment from the Federal Government and will provide support to increase the capacity of operations if needed.
    • Other costs include protective and medical equipment which is currently at a premium cost. 

A request for Handwashing Stations for the homeless has also been approved by Commissioners Court. Best practices across the country have shown the importance of creating access to hand washing stations for the unsheltered population and the impact it has in slowing down the spread of COVID-19. With the County’s shelter in place order, many businesses have closed and this has reduced the number of sites where the homeless population can access clean water and soap. We have worked with the Coalition for the Homeless and the Sheriff’s Office Homeless Outreach Team to identify Harris County’s most dense sites. The following seven handwashing stations were recommended based on the highest density of unsheltered population are across Harris County: 

  • 100 FM 1960 W (30-50 roaming)
  • Freeport & I-10 (20-30 roaming)
  • Fry Rd & I-10 (20-25 roaming)
  • 290 & Cypress Rosehill (20-25 roaming)
  • 290 & Spring Cypress (20-25 roaming)
  • Sheldon Rd & I-10 (15-20 roaming)
  • I-10 & Mason (15-20 roaming)  

 

We will continue to share updates about these efforts on our website and via social media.