Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) continues expanded efforts to serve vulnerable populations during this extended public health emergency.  LMM, operator of the Men’s Shelter at 2100 Lakeside, has taken a proactive and coordinated approach to protect those who are homeless, as well as the broader community.

To mitigate community spread, LMM has worked with a number of partners including the Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services, MetroHealth, YWCA (Norma Herr Women’s Center operator), Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH), and the homeless Continuum of Care to implement a plan that would reduce the likelihood of a COVID-19 outbreak in an emergency shelter. By late March, we were able to coordinate with several hotels, in the City of Cleveland and surrounding areas, who graciously provided rooms and we were able to move a portion of shelter residents out of the congregate living settings and better allow for social distancing. Residents in these settings receive the same services as those in the shelter, including case management to work on their housing plans. Since then, this strategy has continued, and will be in place through year-end, and perhaps longer. We will continue to adapt and phase out these measures as possible.

The most vulnerable residents of the shelters with known risk factors, including those who are over the age of 65 or who have preexisting health conditions, are the residents who have been prioritized to be transitioned to hotels. MetroHealth has been a vital partner in supporting our efforts to identify and transition those most vulnerable. In addition, residents with no risk factors or symptoms also have been moved to hotels to achieve the social distancing goals for our large shelter.  At this time, the numbers of persons who are most at risk represent a small number of all persons housed at hotels.

The safety of our residents and the community is why we have taken these precautions to reduce shelter census and provide additional health screenings. We believe the efforts we took early on in this pandemic have contributed to “flattening the curve”.  Both the men’s and women’s congregate shelters have maintained census consistently under 60%.  Additionally, continued testing support from MetroHealth for those entering shelter and who exhibit symptoms have shown a 4% incidence of COVID positive results; this is versus the national average of 7% for persons experiencing homelessness.

It is our hope that the Greater Cleveland community will understand the challenging situation that our organizations face, and ongoing efforts to ensure the health and safety of our neighbors experiencing homelessness. This will ultimately ensure the health and safety of our region as a whole.

Please reach out Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry at 216.658.8422 if you have comments or questions.

 

Additional Resources for Persons Experiencing Homelessness:

Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services: 216.420.6844

Coordinated Intake (Frontline Services): 216.674.6700

United Way First Call for Help: 2-1-1

 

Maria A. Foschia
Chief Operating Officer