Shelters keep doors open for people in need during COVID-19 crisis

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Now more than ever it is important to have a place to stay as the community practices social distancing. Those who don't have a home are turning to shelters. Shelters in both Hastings and Grand Island have been making some changes to keep their current residents safe, but they are also anticipating even more people needing their services in the coming months.

Not knowing where you can stay is just another anxiety during the pandemic people are experiencing. But local homeless shelters are still taking people in. (KSNB)

Crossroads Mission Avenue in Hastings is housing 67 people. Some of them have come in sick and they gave them a place to quarantine and have their symptoms monitored.

“Where would the homeless be today if they had no place to go? They would be out in the community,” Associate Executive Director Daniel Buller said. “So when we talk about whether it's worth it or not, if 67 people today were out couch surfing or living in their cars or if they were in a public place it would put the whole community at risk.”

Staff have been taking precautions to keep from getting sick or putting those around them at risk. At Hope Harbor in Grand Island, the community living setting is hard to maintain with social distancing. But they clean regularly and keep those who are sick isolated.

“For us we are trying to take every precaution we can,” Executive Director Liz Mayfield said. “Like most places we don't have personal protective equipment. We're not a medical facility so we don't normally keep that stuff on hand but we are sourcing and have people reach out to provide items for us.”

Hope Harbor expects even more people to need their services once people are out of work long enough due to the virus and housing may be in question. Both shelters have changed their requirements for duration of stay so people do not have to fear being forced to leave.

“Three weeks ago we had to do CPR on a guy right outside the mission here in Hastings,” Buller said. “He had a heart attack and he's here today in the shelter and he's really at risk for coronavirus. So just having a safe place for everybody to be is a big thing.”

For now, the shelters are focused on keeping people healthy and taken care of during this time of crisis. Both Hope Harbor and Crossroads said they are low on some supplies that most everyone is low on including toilet paper and cleaning supplies.

If you’d like to help you can reach each shelter here:

Crossroads Mission Avenue

Hope Harbor