Traverse City Homeless Shelters Discussing Coronavirus Adjustments & Challenges
The coronavirus has forced homeless shelters to start looking at changes in the coming months.
It comes as a new study highlights just how much housing northern Michigan counties still need.
Mike McDonald is the chairperson for the board of directors at Safe Harbor Grand Traverse. He says they’re working to develop a plan to open their overnight shelter later this year.
“Part of it will be what is going on with the virus at that time and we are planning that the virus will be with us this fall. We’re assuming vaccines won’t be widely available by November. We would like to be able to have a high degree of testing, but we don’t know if that will be possible either,” said McDonald.
It’s a problem made more complicated by housing challenges already facing northern Michigan. A recent study by Networks Northwest found a ten county area needs more than 10,000 additional rental units and around 4,600 additional homes.
“The housing need is vast and wide and deep and the effects of the coronavirus and this period of social distancing will just have a greater impact on the number of housing units that are needed,” said Kathy Egan, Director of Community Development.
That’s why Safe Harbor says it’s vital they find a way to safely welcome guests.
“We’re looking at how we can be sure that the guests can social distance and still be in the shelter. There really aren’t a lot of other alternatives other than vouchered hotel rooms and that sort of thing which are used for special case,” said McDonald.