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June 04, 2020Client Stories

A COVID-19 Success Story

A COVID-19 Success Story 

37 of 37 homeless and HIV positive people who Damien Center helped house back in March made it through those first scary weeks of shutdowns. None of them contracting COVID-19.      

 "My first night at the hotel I thought, 'Praise God!' says Craig Gilbert, a 61-year old gentleman. “The air was so clean; I had a room to myself.”  

“It was very, very scary” for Craig at the shelter where he had stayed previously. “Very scary about the virus. [They try to do] a good job. But there are so many people, many with handicaps. It’s crowded.” It is nearly impossible to socially distance in a shelter. But when the HIV positive folks relocated to hotels with individual rooms, they were protected.     

In addition to their first 30 days of housing, 29 of the 37 clients became eligible for a 30-day extension.  

And now? "We've been able to get a few people into their own apartments very quickly,” says Tyne Parlett, Damien Center’s Housing Program Manager. “Two of them received permanent housing. A few of them gained employment.” Craig is hoping to get his job back at On-Demand Staffing once Covid is fully behind us. Some of these clients are chronically homeless and are extremely vulnerable. Creative solutions still need to be found. “But for everyone, this was a good way to reengage all of them into care."  And re-engagement in care is paramount when providing services for people who are not housed.  

Donations from individuals, businesses, and grants are all critical to services like this. 

"I talk a lot to people who feel paralyzed to help," says Tyne. “But private funding can provide that bed bug cover of a newly housed client's home, a couch for a grandchild to sleep on, a welcome home kit, $50 Kroger gift card, pillows, or heating and air conditioning for a new place. The Damien Center is a good steward of that private funding. Basic human needs, which may not be covered in a grant, are met."    

To all our donors and supporters, thank you so much for making stories like this possible!