“Stay at home.”
We all heard this instruction time and time again during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were cautioned to stay in our homes and avoid crowded places in an effort to minimize our exposure to a deadly virus. We hunkered down in our houses and apartments, binging Netflix, eating too much, obsessively washing our hands, learning to Zoom, helping our children navigate online learning, and figuring out how to work from the couch.
“Stay at home.”
But what happened if you don’t have a home in which to stay?
What happened when the only hope you had for a night indoors or a meal is a crowded shelter? What happened when you had no place to wash your hands, much less your whole body? What happened when your children could no longer go to school to learn, and you had no way to connect with the teachers?
Convention Center Overflow Shelter Staffing
As local shelters implemented social distancing measures, leaving them with far fewer beds available for people seeking night shelter, Tarrant County Homeless Coalition in conjunction with the DRC, JPS Health, MHMR Tarrant County, and officials from Tarrant County and the City of Fort Worth put together an emergency shelter at the Fort Worth Convention Center.
The temporary space at the Convention Center provided a place for over 400 people, with separate spaces for men, women, and families. Guests were given a health screening before entry, and anyone with symptoms is diverted from the general population. This shelter opened on March 18, 2020 and closed on July 18, 2020.
As local needs changed, the DRC is working with the City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County to continue to provide safe alternatives.
Regular Services Continued
Additionally, DRC Executive Director Bruce Frankel issued a standing directive to all staff to switch to telephone-only consultations with clients and partners and encouraged staff to work from home as much as possible.
Throughout this time, your DRC staff continued offering the highest quality housing services to people in Tarrant County experiencing homelessness. Housing navigation, case management, critical document replacement, advocacy for victims of violence, all of the important services offered by the DRC.