Coronavirus: Northampton to open emergency homeless shelter at high school; volunteers and donations needed

BY GEORGE GRAHAM
THE REPUBLICAN
THURSDAY, APRIL 2ND, 2020

Mayor David J. Narkewicz announced Wednesday morning that the new shelter, which will be operated in partnership with ServiceNet, will open at 3 p.m.

“ServiceNet has been working tirelessly to keep the residents of its two overnight shelters (on Center and Grove streets) safe since the onset of COVID-19, but current sleeping spaces within those two facilities are inadequate to allow for proper social distancing,” Narkewicz said.

Narkewicz announced last Thursday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is working from home in isolation.

The Northampton COVID-19 Emergency Management Team — led by the mayor and composed of officials with the public health, fire rescue, emergency management, police, schools and other city departments — has spent the last several weeks planning and setting up the shelter, securing resources and working with ServiceNet officials on operational details.

The city has secured meals for the site through Smith College and the Hampshire County House of Corrections, Narkewicz said.

Upon arrival at the shelter, staff and shelter residents will be screened by a predetermined set of health questions. If any markers for illness are present they will not be allowed inside and will be directed for medical evaluation and isolation at an alternative location. Once inside, residents will be screened twice a day.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to contact Assistant Fire Chief Andy Pelis at 413-695-9429 or apelis@northamptonma.gov. Behavioral health professionals will also be on site.

Those seeking to make donations of supplies, meals and other shelter needs can do so online at northamptonma.gov/COVID-19.

They can also be mailed to: City of Northampton, Attn: COVID-19 Emergency Fund, 212 Main St., Northampton, MA 01060.

The city is also seeking donations of necessary items. Go to www.northamptonma.gov/COVID19 for more information and specific needs.

ServiceNet, meanwhile, is urgently in need of staff to support the emergency shelter. Those interested are asked to visit servicenet.org/jobs.

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