City of Salinas Increases Protections for Homeless Residents during COVID-19 Outbreak

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News Date: 
April 5, 2020

The City of Salinas (City) is taking action to protect its most vulnerable residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts represent the collaborative team approach of multiple City departments, including: Community Development, Library and Community Services, Public Works, Fire, Police, Finance, Legal, and the City Manager's Office. Individuals and families experiencing homelessness are at high-risk for contracting and becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 due to crowded living situations, sanitation challenges, and underlying health conditions. Salinas has the largest homeless population in Monterey County (County). The City is working closely with the County and homeless service providers to increase shelter space and resources to improve hygiene, health education, food access, social distancing, and to isolate homeless individuals who may have COVID-19. These resources will be concentrated in the Chinatown and Downtown, neighborhoods with the largest homeless populations.

"It is absolutely critical to provide additional support to our residents experiencing homeless during this pandemic," said Mayor Joseph Gunter. "Each measure taken not only cares for the city's most vulnerable populations, but the health of the community as a whole by flattening the curve of infection and reducing the stress placed on our local health care systems. We will continue to work every day to rise to the challenge of this crisis and protect the health and safety of Salinas."

Additional accommodation and shelter.

The City, in partnership with Community Homeless Solutions (CHS) officially opened the Chinatown Navigation Center (Center) on March 31st for twenty-four hour shelter as well as case management and housing navigation services. Accommodations for up to fifteen (15) individuals are being ramped up to ensure precautionary measures are being followed in light of COVID-19. The City has funded multiple partners to work with the occupants with the goal of being permanently housed.

The HomeFul Foundation, with support from the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, has gifted the City eight (8) trailers as a resource to our homeless population during and after this crisis. Five (5) trailers will be used at the Center located at 115-125 E. Lake Street and an additional three (3) trailers at the Warming Shelter located at 111 W. Alisal Street. These trailers will provide shelter for up to thirty (30) people and could be used to quarantine those exposed to COVID-19 or to help shelter-in-place vulnerable homeless populations. The trailers are proposed to be delivered within the next two weeks.


Improved hygiene and sanitation services and outreach.

The City has installed seventeen (17) pairs of portable restrooms and hand washing units, as well as four (4) individual hand washing stations to provide critical sanitation services during the COVID-19 pandemic. These units are located in the Chinatown core and adjacent neighborhoods, Downtown, near Carr Lake and E. Laurel, and near the intersection of the railroad tracks and S. Sanborn Road. A vital group of volunteers and homeless leaders are monitoring the sanitation stations and providing direct street outreach to encampments on how to keep safe during this crisis.


Increased funding for Food Bank for Monterey County

The Food Bank for Monterey County (Food Bank) is even more critical to struggling families and the homeless during the crisis. The Food Bank has recently seen the number of people it serves quadruple due to COVID-19. In recognition of the dire need to increase food access to these vulnerable populations, the City immediately identified an additional $23,580 of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, which will be redirected to the Food Bank. As a result, the City has provided a total of $126,004 in HUD CDBG funds to the Food Bank during this fiscal year.

The City is also encouraging donations to the Food Bank. You can find out how to donate and more by visiting their website.

The City continues to coordinate with the County to mitigate the COVID-19 risk among those experiencing homelessness. For more information on the City's actions please contact Megan Hunter (831) 758-7387 or at [email protected]