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Providing homeless warmth in the middle of a pandemic

Published: Nov. 1, 2020 at 11:02 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Temperatures are dropping rapidly and the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing on a daily basis. The community doing what they can to keep those in need warm during these critical times. Volunteers of America (VOA) in Reno is keeping shelters open until the temperature reaches at least 35 degrees.

The VOA has also planned to have COVID-compliant emergency shelters. Marie Baxter, CEO of Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada said we are seeing an increase in our homeless population, but COVID is making things difficult.

“It’s a balancing act of how do you find enough space where you can keep people warm, but then also meeting all of the needs that we are all grappling with,” Baxter said.

In previous years, Baxter said they were feeding and providing warmth to nearly 20,000 to 30,000 people a month, this year they are reaching more than 50,000.

“We don’t want to make things worse by saying ok we are going to have you all group together in a big space and then they all develop the flu or get COVID or something terrible,” explained Baxter.

As a result of the pandemic, many have lost their jobs, families have been getting evicted, and they end up with no place to go. Baxter said the Community Homelessness Board is taking that into consideration. Catholic Charities is working on increasing the number of meals being given out and helping provide warmth.

“Keeping the shelters open longer during the day will help mitigate a lot of the risk for people from the cold also from all the different germs that are out in our world right now,” said Baxter.

As you begin taking out winter clothing, keep in mind that Catholic Charities is always accepting donations to help bring warmth during these challenging conditions.

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