Whittier Accelerates Access to Shelter for Those Experiencing Homelessness During Pandemic
Under normal circumstances, individuals experiencing homelessness are some of the community’s most vulnerable residents, but during the COVID-19 pandemic they are an even greater at-risk population. The City of Whittier has set up an emergency shelter to provide lodging, hygiene facilities, meals, and community resources to those in need.
In July, the Whittier City Council voted unanimously to quickly establish a temporary, emergency homeless shelter at the Uptown Senior Center. The 139-bed shelter is scheduled to open on Sept. 1. The city says homeless residents will be provided with case management, housing navigation, job training resources and connection to services. In addition, there will be COVID testing every two weeks and nursing assistance at least three times a week.
The Uptown Senior Center will provide an immediate interim safe haven while the city works in partnership with The Salvation Army to open a more comprehensive homeless navigation center in January 2021. This center will offer shelter, case management and wraparound services to those in need.
“In addition to our existing homeless service providers and resources, The Salvation Army partnership will only strengthen our ability to assist those in need throughout our community,” said City Manager Brian Saeki.
The streamlining of shelter services is one element of Whittier’s larger Homeless Action Plan, adopted in July of 2018, which outlined goals and objectives for coordinating assistance from regional service providers and increasing low-income housing stock in Whittier.
Although the hardship from the pandemic is shared by all, the City of Whittier has demonstrated its commitment to ensuring that its most vulnerable residents have access to a safe environment and are protected now and into the future.
This story was featured in the CA Cities Advocate Newsletter on Aug. 26, 2020.