Homeless shelters in the Omaha area turn to hotels amid a pandemic

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Hands on deck this winter bringing the Omaha metro homeless to safety amid the pandemic.

Two local hotels are being used to temporarily shelter those in need as the cold weather pushes people off the streets.

The city of Omaha is using COVID grants to fund part of the $ 3-4 million project, with local nonprofits and the philanthropic community taking care of the rest.

“I think this year everyone has really felt the pressure to bring people in and protect them at the same time,” said Tina Murray, director of Crisis Engagement, Together Inc., noting that the hotels offer an alternative for people to pile up. a saving grace for the Open Door Mission.

“With the hotel, instead of putting more people into a smaller area, we can reduce and control that area so that any other precautionary measures we take to ensure safety can take effect,” said Steve Frazee. Senior Program Director, Open Door Mission.

The two hotels accommodate more than a hundred people from a handful of emergency shelters.

“They know we took some people out of some of the higher-risk shelters so they could go into a room and isolate themselves,” said Murray, who is leading the project on site. “Then we have some people who are in situations where they may have service animals and the like,” said Murray, noting that some guests have recently been homeless.

“People who have been exposed to either evictions or house fires are a place they can return to without having to go to the shelter with COVID-19,” Murray said.

Guests must follow COVID precautions and are given a case manager to help them get back on their feet.

“As long as you’ve signed the affiliate agreement, follow the rules, and handle the management’s case, you’re welcome to stay,” said Murray.

The project will be funded until April with the aim of preparing people to become self-employed.

“When that ends, hopefully by working with their assigned case manager, they can take the next step towards independence,” Frazee said.

For security and data protection reasons, the hotels and their locations are not disclosed.

The shelters recommend who will be accommodated in the hotels and make sure they have the temperament and behavioral background to manage their stay.

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