Albany County talks homelessness during COVID-19: “Housing is healthcare”

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany County Executive Dan McCoy held a briefing Friday with the latest COVID-19 data, and to discuss the county’s response to homelessness during the pandemic.

Michele McClave, Commissioner of the Albany County Department of Social Services said homeless populations are particularly vulnerable to complications of COVID-19. Her department has made arrangements to allow homeless people to self-isolate when necessary.

“As the County Executive said, we have quarantined a number of people who have had symptoms or were positive in motels,” McClave explained, “so they can stay there for two weeks away from the rest of the population.”

Liz Hitt, Executive Director of HATAS said housing is healthcare. “If you don’t have someplace to live, how do you social distance,” Hitt said, “how do you wash your hands?”

During the COVID-19 public health crisis, shelters in Albany County have continued full operation.

McCoy said the homeless shelters have had to follow CDC guidelines for COVID-19 protocols. However, he noted that it has not been easy, and there have been hiccups along the way.

It’s also been costly. Hitt says Just over 1 million dollars of funding came into Albany a few months ago to help with the costs brought on by COVID-19, and was divided between homeless shelters, outreach programs, and rapid rehousing.

“We’re also looking at some more funding that’s coming down from the state,” Hitt said, “sourced by the federal government, I believe, and the Department of Social Services is going to be working with those providers to, again, be focusing on those core elements.”

There are 11 new positive cases of COVID-19 in Albany County. One is a healthcare worker and one reported recent travel. The five day average of positive cases in the county is 8.8.

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