How to support PACEM during the Covid-19 pandemic
PACEM is normally a seasonal shelter. However, a month before the scheduled end of our 2019-20 season the pandemic struck and we quickly pivoted our operations from congregational sites to fixed ones in downtown Charlottesville. Instead of closing on April 10th, we provided congregate shelter to 20-30 homeless guests a night for an additional eight weeks.
On April 23rd, we were able to move our entire women’s shelter (5 women at the time) plus a dozen men out of the congregate setting and to a nearby hotel where they have remained ever since. On June 10th, the rest of our men (almost 20) exited our congregate shelter for the same hotel. As there were initially a limited number rooms available at the hotel, we continued to offer emergency overnight shelter for women at a local congregational site through the end of June. However, more hotel rooms were made available which allowed us to close congregate shelter for the summer.
Ever since, PACEM has supervised the sheltering of approximately 50 men and women at the hotel. In addition to providing evening staffing, our case management team has worked closely with the hotel guests to regularly evaluate their stays and identify and attack obstacles to housing.
Now, as summer shifts to fall, we are exploring the possibility of offering congregate shelter to the homeless individuals that are unable to access the hotel option. We are hopeful to establish shelter at church sites from November through March while anticipating that a hotel option will continue to be available to those homeless individuals with a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Congregate shelter will look a lot different than it did a year ago. Safety measures like masks and sanitizing stations, and, most significantly, social distancing, will have a dramatic impact on our ability to shelter. Volunteer interaction–a bedrock of PACEM’s services–will be severely restricted. Even so, we will strive to offer a warm and welcoming safe space for those impacted by homelessness.
If you are from a local congregation and would like to become part of our effort please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to support the shelter operations at the hotel please consider contributing the cost of a night’s worth of meals from a local restaurant. If you have any questions contact Jayson Whitehead. And please stay safe!