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Page last updated on September 7, 2021 at 1:43 pm

This is Mayor John Hamilton. I'd like to talk about how our community is helping those who are going through homelessness or severe poverty, other major challenges during this COVID era. I want to note how incredibly activated our philanthropy community and governments have been since March, really, to try to address the major challenges that come with the combination of a pandemic and poverty and other such challenges. Millions of dollars have been aligned and invested to help support housing needs, to help support food insecurity, childcare, as well as direct personal services of counseling and social services and case welfare workers ad such in this period. And I want to thank all those who've been part of that.

We've done unprecedented things to add to the unprecedented work on expanding with hundreds of units of permanently affordable, low income-focused housing in the area. We've also added emergency shelter beds this fall and winter, also isolation beds to help make sure if anybody needs to be isolated and is either undergoing symptoms or needs to be checked for symptoms, we've opened up several locations of that, helping existing emergency shelters expand their footprint so they have safer more space for folks.

These are really tough times to be poor, out on the street, not having a place to isolate and I want to thank the community which has worked so hard to make that possible. We will continue to do that. It is not a safe place to be during the winter, outdoors. As of this time, there are more than 50 emergency shelter beds in the city that are available for use either for isolation and quarantine or just for emergency overnight shelter. Of course, the response to homelessness is housing, that's what we're working on in the long run and every week to increase the housing supply. But in the meantime, emergency shelters' beds are available, it's really important that we help our fellow residents get into those beds. About 150 people have used the isolation center when they needed to, and we continue to make those available.

I'll be meeting this week with funders and with providers to assure the continued collaboration. I know there are some concerns about where and when people are or should be sleeping outdoors. But the short answer is we're working every day to try to make sure nobody has to sleep outdoors and to give opportunity, connect with services folks, to make sure they can use those emergency beds that are available, or if they declined to use those to make sure they're connected to services that can help them respond to any of the challenges that they have.

These are challenging times, always in the winter but with this COVID addition, it does take extra effort. I want to thank the community for doing that. And we'll continue to work on this as a team, collaborating all across our great community full of people who want to see the right things done for all of our fellow residents. Happy to talk more about it, and you can reach out to my office if you care to online or by phone. And thanks for all you do to help to keep Bloomington safe.