NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Three very different groups came together Wednesday morning to help the homeless: the National Guard, the United Way of Greater New Haven, and a wastewater solutions company.
It started with a big truck full of supplies from the National Guard pulling up the loading dock of Industrial Flow Solutions. The wastewater management company had some extra room.
“We moved into this facility now over a year and a half ago, and it came with this huge amount of space for us to store our inventory,” Frances Barkey of Industrial Flow Solutions said.
Now they are using that space to store the big truck’s worth of all kinds of personal protective equipment (PPE). The United Way of Greater New Haven is coordinating the effort and will distribute the items to a couple of dozen agencies over the next few months.
“Making sure not only our clients experiencing homelessness are safe, but staff working directly with them are safe,” Margaret Lefever of the United Way of Greater New Haven said. “PPE has continued to be an ongoing need.”
These supplies arrived just in time. The temperatures are supposed to dip next week. This is the time of the year when folks who normally would sleep out on the street have to find somewhere else to stay.
“Our system is seeing more people calling 211 asking for an assessment now more than ever, as well as asking for cold weather shelter,” Lefever said.
At the beginning of the pandemic, shelters like Columbus House in New Haven moved all their clients into hotels. It’s been a fundamental shift in the entire system, funded mostly by emergency money from the federal government.
“We really did function a lot out of congregate settings, especially our emergency shelters with 50-60 sometimes 80 people in one room,” said Lefever. “We’ve had to completely pivot that.”
Part of this donation is also mattresses to be used in newly found homes or emergency shelters, during storms or dangerous cold, when demand is too great for those hotels.