Mayor opening emergency homeless shelters
by Bill Kirk, Eagle Tribune
The city is opening two emergency homeless shelters for people who need to quarantine either because they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or been exposed to it. Starting Friday, 80 rooms at the Double Tree by Hilton on River Road in Andover have been designated for use by families or individuals who are homeless, or soon will be, and who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the deadly disease. Based on guidelines issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Public Health, anyone who has been within six feet of a person with coronavirus for longer than 15 minutes is considered at risk and needs to be quarantined for 14 days. Homeless people who actually have the virus are being given a couple of options. According to a press release issued by Mayor Daniel Rivera Thursday, a shelter for homeless people who have tested positive for COVID-19 has been opened in Lexington. It currently houses 13 patients. MEMA, or the Mass. Emergency Management Agency, is providing transportation to that shelter. In addition, within two weeks the city will open a shelter in Lawrence with 16 beds for homeless people who have coronavirus. The location of that shelter is not being released as final details are still being worked out. Rivera said the plan announced on Thursday has been in the works for weeks and is intended to take care of people who are "housing insecure," living paycheck to paycheck and who have been immediately affected by job loss, loss of health insurance, and other issues related to the coronavirus pandemic. Neither of the shelters is meant to take care of the "chronically homeless," many of whom suffer from drug and alcohol addiction and are the most difficult to find housing for.