Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM)’s temporary stay at the Ramada Independence due to COVID-19 is coming to a close, but the men who sought us out for shelter on their toughest days will not be left without a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs, or much-needed wrap-around services. Sixteen years ago when we contracted to run the largest homeless shelter in the state of Ohio, we made a commitment to always provide for every man in need of shelter and individualized case management. We are just as committed to providing shelter services and dignity to our local homeless population as the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.

The reason for occupancy since the start of the pandemic has been to keep the men safe and healthy by utilizing hotel hubs, since shelters aren’t traditionally designed with social distancing in mind. During our time at the Ramada in Independence, we have faced challenges, but in the meantime, have been able to make transition plans for our residents. The Hotel Hub strategy has intentionally been a temporary solution during an emergency situation, and while we are moving men back to the shelter earlier than anticipated, we have put every precaution in place to keep residents safe, including well-thought out renovations.

The transition plan will relocate the men from the Ramada to the Men’s Shelter at 2100 Lakeside, which has been modified to comply with COVID safety protocols. LMM is able to move men back to the shelter at 2100 Lakeside during COVID by fast-tracking the design, build, and installation of a “pod” concept (pictured below). Pods will serve the purpose of safety through social distancing. They will also increase privacy and add security with coded locks on all doors. Pods will be a combination of double beds, quads and singles. LMM is continuing the practice of COVID screenings for each resident, COVID testing on-site once a week, and making vaccinations consistently accessible to residents.