By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — As temperatures start to drop, Humility Homes and Services, Inc., (HHSI) and Quad Cities Housing Council have geared up to open the winter emergency shelter on Dec. 1.
Cloey Quinteiro, development director for HHSI, said the nonprofit operates a year-round emergency shelter with a 70-bed capacity that will increase by 50 beds for the winter emergency shelter. The extra beds will be in the basement of the existing shelter in Davenport’s central city.
Prior to 2019, HHSI worked collaboratively to refer people in need of winter shelter to King’s Harvest, also in Davenport. HHSI has coordinated the winter emergency shelter for the past two winters. During the winter of 2019-20, as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, “We followed CDC guidelines and moved everyone to hotels,” Quinteiro said. Last winter those in need of shelter were housed in hotels.
Quinteiro said HHSI remodeled its emergency shelter space to allow for the increased capacity. “Having one location helps us with our COVID-19 mitigation efforts and ensures proper staffing 24/7. It also makes it more accessible for anyone experiencing homelessness to have just one single location providing shelter.”
“When the pandemic started, our service coordinators started working remotely,” she said. HHSI moved its street outreach navigators and the agency’s files to the HHSI Jubilee Center on the former St. Mary campus and added drop-in office space in the administration offices there. This made remodeling of the shelter’s basement possible.
Knights of Columbus Loras Council 532 donated a new shed that will allow HHSI to store basic needs for participants staying in the shelter, she noted. Shelter participants “must wear a mask inside the premises, unless they are eating or sleeping. All bunks and mats are 3 feet apart.” HHSI staff and volunteers also conduct temperature checks daily. “If a participant were to show COVID-19 related symptoms, they would be isolated immediately and tested.” Daily, frequent sanitization schedules for common areas and rooms continue.
Looking back at last winter, Quinteiro said the COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect the service delivery model. “Through diversion and street outreach, HHSI was able to continue to reduce the need for winter emergency shelter last season — surpassing the goal of a 10% reduction with more than a 22% reduction (from 350 individuals in 2019-2020 to 272 in 2020-2021).”
“The COVID-19 pandemic did cause a shift in the length of stay for participants,” she said. “Landlords were hesitant to take new tenants with an eviction moratorium in place. In addition, friends and family were more hesitant to take in participants due to fears of spreading COVID-19. The result was that participants stayed at the winter emergency shelter longer than previous years (from an average of 11 days in 2019-2020 to an average of 37 days in 2020-2021).”
Christie Adamson, HHSI’s assistant director, said the agency is “very proud to serve as the site of the winter emergency shelter this year. We anticipate an increase in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone deserves to have a safe, warm bed during the coldest months of the year. We saw that need and decided to act proactively by remodeling.”
The Quad Cities Housing Council is in charge of promotion, coordination and building the capacity of housing development throughout the Quad-Cities.