Monday, April 6, 2020

Eureka Mayor Talks Efforts to Protect Homeless Residents (VIDEO)

Posted By on Mon, Apr 6, 2020 at 8:14 PM

Susan Seaman - CITY OF EUREKA
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  • Susan Seaman
Eureka Mayor Susan Seaman has released a public service announcement updating the community on the city's efforts to care for its homeless residents amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Humboldt County. In it, she announces a number of new services and protocols, and says the Eureka Police Department recently gave 500 N95 masks, which are in tremendously short supply and high demand nationwide, to the Department of Health and Human Services for social workers aiding the local homeless population.

"By doing this, we are supporting our partners by protecting the health of their professionals working on the front lines with our homeless community and CSET team," Seaman said.

Watch the video or read a full transcript of Seaman's remarks copied below.

COVID-19 Mayor PSA


Hello. I’m Susan Seaman, Mayor of Eureka.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous videos, during this COVID-19 State of Emergency, the City of Eureka is deeply committed to supporting the health and well-being of all of our citizens, our community, and our local economy.

In talking with many of you, I have received several questions and heard deep concern related to how the City is supporting the members of our community that are actively experiencing homelessness.

It goes without saying that it is difficult to shelter in place when you do not have access to shelter. In this current moment, that is not only a social concern, but it is also a public safety consideration.

With that in mind, I want to share with you the steps we’ve taken to support those that are most vulnerable and exposed.

Alongside our community partners, the Eureka Police Department’s Community Safety Engagement Team (CSET) and UPLIFT Eureka staff are serving on the front lines of the City’s COVID-19 homelessness response.

They are working every day to continue to foster meaningful relationships across the community. They are offering support and services, advocating for the specific needs of at-risk residents who are experiencing homelessness, and communicating and coordinating with other stakeholders, including County public services and nonprofits, to facilitate an effective response to this unique moment.

I have deep gratitude, respect, and admiration for the important work they are doing.

In addition to deploying our front-line services, we’ve taken a number of other important actions and have put in place some important new protocols.

Our team checks in daily with our community partners, including the Eureka Rescue Mission, Saint Vincent De Paul, and Betty Chinn, to proactively listen and offer our support around the local homeless community’s most pressing and urgent needs. The relationships that the EPD and our CSET teams have built with these partners has enabled us to work together seamlessly in these challenging times.

As a result of proactively seeking solutions to meet identified service gaps, CSET has helped coordinate a new protocol to house homeless members of our community when they are released from jail. Inmates who were in the jail for at least 14 days symptom free - essentially quarantined - are now given the option to be picked up by staff from the Eureka Rescue Mission for immediate shelter.

Additionally, a protocol has been put in place to provide COVID-19 screening and further medical assessment. Homeless community members can be assessed by a primary care physician from Open Door or the Emergency Room and transported to a medical facility, 24/7. If deemed necessary, transportation to a local motel for quarantine or isolation in a sheltered location is also provided.

Portable restrooms and hand washing stations have been procured, with more on the way through the assistance of the County Department of Health and Human Services. As hand washing is recommended as an important measure to reduce the spread of the virus, ensuring safe access to restrooms for everyone in our community is of critical importance.

We recently donated 500 hard-to-find N95 masks out of the Eureka Police Department supply to the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services. By doing this, we are supporting our partners by protecting the health of their professionals working on the front lines with our homeless community and CSET team.

Sergeant La France, CSET’s supervisor, also purchased and distributed over 100 ponchos to help a vulnerable population where further exposure to the elements could weaken their immune system and make them further compromised to becoming COVID-19 infected. More than half of our homeless population self-reports to having a permanent physical disability or chronic health problem.

The Uplift team has secured over five gallons of hand sanitizer. Staff members have transferred it into personal-use containers and distributed them to community members experiencing homelessness at Free Meal, as well as to the Eureka Rescue Mission and Betty Chin’s facilities.

The Eureka Police Department has worked with the City to obtain a permit to close 3rd Street in front of the St Vincent De Paul Dining Facility so that they can continue to serve Free Meals, 7 days a week. This new configuration allows our staff and community volunteers to ensure all patrons are kept safe, maintain proper social distancing, and provide COVID-19 education.

Uplift also provides three to four staff members every weekday to help assist with maintaining social distancing and to provide services to Saint Vincent De Paul's employees and clients during Free Meal.

It’s worth noting that given the current guidelines, all of these Free Community Meals are served “to go” to limit congregation and the potential spread of disease.

In addition to everything I’ve shared, we continue to advocate for a comprehensive action plan that involves the City, the County’s Department of Public Health, and DHHS during this pandemic. As more information becomes available, I’ll continue to share updates.

Again, I’m Mayor Susan Seaman. Thank you for continuing to do your part to protect our community. Stay safe, be healthy, and take good care of yourself. We’ll speak again soon.
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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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