Help us support the homeless during COVID-19
The Aspen Homeless Shelter has been on the FRONT LINES of fighting the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19 in Aspen since this March. Our staff puts themselves in harm’s way every day to assist those in need. We have increased our services to meet the need while we watched an estimated $200,000 of our regular funding evaporate with the stock market downturn and event cancellation.
In response to the crisis, we created a new Case Management position this April to help our clients navigate their journey to mainstreaming their lives during the COVID-19 crisis. This is important especially during a pandemic because staying in place prevents the spread of the virus and homeless persons cannot "stay in shelter" on their own because they do not have shelter.
Since our funding organization closed in 2013 our primary focus has been on the basics: food, safety, shelter, hygiene, and access to additional help and services. This March we started working very closely with the Pitkin County Public Health Department on developing new protocols, and obtaining PPE for our staff and clients.
This is crucial as homeless persons tend to move up and down our valley and beyond, which is a prime opportunity for catching and spreading the virus. We have been on lockdown since March 13th, and made sure our clients stay in place, and that they are carefully monitored for symptoms (temperatures are taken upon entry, we also monitor and ensure proper hygiene and social distancing). We also created a quarantine plan with Pitkin County for the homeless who show symptoms or test positive. So far none of our clients have been symptomatic!
The new case manager position allows us to move deeper into each person’s situation in order to move them out of crisis and into problem-solving, and ultimately housing where they CAN shelter in place. The case manager:
· Helps our clients get their stimulus checks (many of our clients have no phone, computer or email and don’t file taxes because of their low income making it difficult to claim this benefit)
· Qualifies them for low-income housing in Garfield County or identifies other types of housing options
· Helps them identify problem areas and facilitates access to additional help such as mental health counseling, addiction treatment, job search (87% of our clients are employed in Pitkin County), obtaining basic identification documents, locating family, etc.
Every client housed and cared for saves our community considerable resources and the possibility of contagion. Based on 10 years of experience our motto is that solutions are much cheaper than problems! The annual cost for the case manager position is $50,000. We have raised $25,000 to date and are looking for matching funds to reach our goal. $5,000 would help us make significant progress towards this goal.