COUNTY BOARD TO CONSIDER RESOLUTIONS TO CONTINUE COVID-RELATED HOMELESS SHELTER SUPPORT
September 23, 2021
County Board Chair Analiese Eicher, (608) 571-6823
The Dane County Board of Supervisors will meet virtually tonight at 7:00pm. At the meeting, the Board will consider two resolutions to support the needs of homeless individuals. One contract continues shelter in hotels to provide social distancing and isolation/quarantine shelter for certain people experiencing homelessness to reduce exposure and spread of the virus. A second contract provides continued hotels to housing case management.
If approved, 2021 RES-148 would award a $1.6 million contract to Focus Counseling to continue non-congregate isolation and quarantine shelter in hotels for people experiencing homelessness who are symptomatic/positive for COVID-19 or a close contact for a positive COVID-19 case. The contract would also include a continuation of non-congregate shelter for people experiencing homelessness who are at higher risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19.
The resolution indicates that while Dane County has one of the highest vaccination rates among eligible individuals in the United States, data suggests that the vaccination rate among people experiencing homelessness is much lower.
"As the pandemic continues to be a part of our daily lives, we need to realize the impact it is having on members of the community that may not have a room in a house or an apartment to care for themselves or loved ones as they deal with COVID. I’m pleased we are able to provide this service for our community," said County Board Supervisor Kristen Audet (District 17), who is also Second Vice-Chair of the County Board.
Focus Counseling has provided this services since Dane County began responding to the pandemic. The funding for this program will pivot from the Coronavirus Aid, Relieve, and Economic Security Act funds the County received in 2020 to the funds received in 2021 from the American Rescue Plan Act.
The Board will also consider 2021 RES-140, which if approved, would also award a contract to Focus Counseling to continue hotels to housing case management. The hotels to housing initiative was authorized in May 2021 to provide housing search, rental assistance, and case management services to people experiencing homelessness who are currently served by hotel shelter funded by Dane County. The program assists eligible households with up to two years of rental assistance and case management.
"The Hotel to Housing program is truly making a difference in people’s lives and its continued success a critical part of our County's work toward addressing homelessness. I look forward to seeing this program continue to help our neighbors get back on their feet," said County Board Supervisor Sarah Smith (District 24), who also serves on the City-County Homeless Issues Committee.
The resolution indicates that since the program began Focus Counseling, which has been providing this service, has assisted more than 80 shelter guests with securing housing. Currently, 170 households are enrolled with the program through Focus Counseling and continuing their housing search.
County Board Chair Analiese Eicher said, "the funds we have received from the Federal government to respond to the pandemic have been instrumental in assisting the community. Programs like these are forward-thinking and holistic as we think about how best to serve people experiencing homelessness."
Members of the public can register to attend and/or speak by finding the information on the agenda.