GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Homeless people infected with the coronavirus or showing symptoms will soon be offered a new place to stay in upstate South Carolina.
A 32-bed quarantine shelter will open Dec. 28 near Greenville, United Housing Connections and the Upstate Continuum of Care tell the Greenville News.
Tim Brown of homeless service ministry Miracle Hill said people have no place to go.
“They have no shelter and when they’re starting to feel symptoms, they don’t know what to do,” Brown said. “There’s nobody to care for them. That’s what this facility is all about.”
United Housing Connections CEO Lorain Crowl said last week that her group and the continuum were awarded $2 million in grants to develop the shelter. That includes $157,000 in federal coronavirus relief from Greenville County that can be used immediately to start buying supplies.
A $1.7 million state grant will pay for staff salaries, support services, food and more.
The shelter is a joint effort between United Housing Connections and others.
PRISMA Health will provide medical care, oxygen, protective gear and testing. Telehealth consultations will also be available.
Greenville Homeless Alliance Coordinator Susan McLarty told WSPA-TV that the shelter will also provide outreach to end homelessness.
“What are your barriers, how can we help you not go back to the street, so we hope all that together will bring more positive outcomes,” McLarty said.
The number of people without a place to stay has risen during the pandemic, Crowl said, possibly quadrupling in the Greenville area even as places to go such as libraries or churches have become less available.
Miracle Hill, opened a quarantine shelter in April but saw little demand, in part because of warm weather, Brown said. However, the partners see the need as more pressing with the onset of winter.
Brown noted the case of a man who walked from Greenville Memorial Hospital to Miracle Hill's Greenville Rescue Mission in the rain with COVID-19 symptoms after the hospital had said he wasn't sick enough to be admitted.
“He’d walked in the rain, was running a fever and was just in a pitiful state,” Brown said.
Dr. Martin Lutz, Prisma Health’s director of special projects, said local hospitals are filling with COVID-19 patients and providing an alternative place for some people to stay will help relieve pressure.
"It’s a huge concern to keep the hospital beds open,” said Lutz. “This will allow us to keep the folks out of the hospital.”