Tahoe Homeless Coalition extends Warm Room hours | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Homeless Coalition extends Warm Room hours

The Warm Room in South Lake Tahoe.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – In response to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the winter storm, Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless has extended their emergency shelter hours to 24-hour operations over the weekend.

While the Warm Room helps protect guests from dangerous temperatures and weather, it will also help to reduce their risks of contracting and/or spread the virus.

During the night, the shelter saw ten more people than usual, and during the day, they saw 20-25 people.

“It keeps them safe and means they can participate in social distancing,” said Cheyenne Purrington, Executive Director for the coalition.

Many guests are at greater risk due to age (30% of their guests are over 55 years old), disabilities, being immunocompromised, and mental health conditions. In addition, guests with homeless status often don’t have access to basic hygiene facilities, primary healthcare, private space for quarantine, updated news or reliable forms of communication.

Purrington said that 20% of guests meet the vulnerability criteria and within the guests that are 55 years or older, 64% of them have underlying chronic health conditions.

In addition to the extended hours, the coalition has changed staff schedules to allow for 24-hour coverage and they’ve reconfigured the shelter to allow for more guest space.

They are working with Barton Health and the Fire Department and the staff are familiar with screening protocols for symptomatic guests.

Barton is requesting that if the guests have COVID-19 symptoms, to have a Barton nurse do a phone-screening rather than sending that person to the hospital, then that person can go to a special clinic off-site of Barton’s campus.

The hour extension will last through the end of March and possibly through the end of April. The shelter was originally planning on staying open until the beginning of April until they could get all their guests counted in the census. Now, they are extending the date until the end of April but they aren’t sure whether or not April will have 24 hour access.

They are looking to hire a few more staff members so that the existing staff isn’t burnt out.

The coalition is requesting donations to help them accomodate for the time extension, staff and additional resources.

“We don’t currently have the funding to stay open so we are asking financial help from the community,” Purrington said.

The shelter also needs basic cleaning supplies but they ask that people call the shelter before making drop-offs to get special instructions. While they do need those supplies, they are most in need of financial heltp. To donate, visit tahoehomeless.org.

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