RHD provides a continuum of care to those experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Everyone deserves a place to call home. From shelters and safe havens to supported independent living, Resources for Human Development helps people of all abilities pursue their dreams of permanent housing. Since the onset of COVID-19, RHD’s commitment to assuring the health and safety of individuals experiencing homelessness has been critical to this especially vulnerable population.

In the late summer of 2020, Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services (OHS) recruited RHD to open a COVID Prevention site at the Holiday Inn Express in Center City. Within two weeks, RHD set up a social services team to provide case management, medical services, and 24/7 support from Direct Service Professionals (DSPs).

RHD’s primary goal was to provide guests with a safe place while they stabilized themselves so they could find permanent housing. Guests were homeless individuals 65 and over and/or those with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems. People came from the street, encampments, programs that were ill-equipped to meet complex needs, and from service providers whose clients were concerned about catching COVID. Individuals resided in private rooms and received meals at the door as an added precaution. Two to three DSPs worked throughout the day and evening to assist guests as needed, with a nurse on hand to provide wellness services. Guests were free to come and go independently and were required to wear masks in public places.

In total, 134 individuals received concierge-level services by skilled and compassionate care managers in four key areas: housing, healthcare, financial, and lifestyle management. A variety of contracted providers worked collaboratively with RHD, helping in several supportive areas including food services, security, and transportation.

In addition to OHS, RHD case managers collaborated with other city agencies – the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities, the Office of Aging and the Clearinghouse for Housing, and fellow providers like Horizon House and Homeless Assistance Project (HAP) – to overcome barriers in securing guest housing. From obtaining necessary documents like birth certificates, state identification, and social security cards to completing and processing applications, executing site visits for homes, and coordinating moving plans, RHD case managers left no detail undone.

The operation was a success, but changing needs called for a shift in strategy. Due to the spike in COVID cases, particularly among many homeless individuals and first responders, the Holiday Inn Express transitioned into a COVID Isolation and Recovery site where positive individuals can quarantine and convalesce during their illness.

Therefore, OHS requested that we continue to provide social services to guests at a new COVID Prevention site. On December 23, 2020, 34 of the 68 guests were relocated from the Holiday Inn to a spacious facility on Luzerne Avenue.  Luzerne consists of two large buildings with ample space for social distancing and free movement throughout the building. The facility is cleaned frequently to reduce the risk of COVID.

The move was coordinated by Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) with assistance from the Office of Homeless Services (OHS), Department of Licensing and Inspections (L&I), Department of Public Health, and Holiday Inn staff. The relocation went smoothly, with two residents assigned to each expansive room with furnishings. On December 30th, the same process occurred for the remaining 34 guests.

RHD Care Managers continue to work with each guest to help them achieve housing, with the goal for all to be permanently housed by the spring. Over 50 individuals were successfully placed in the last six months of 2020 by our RHD Care Managers, with an additional 10 in the first two weeks of January 2021.

Long-term housing ends homelessness. RHD is proud to partner with city and government agencies to provide help, hope, and the realization of long-term housing for those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.


RHD responds to Coronavirus pandemic, working to ensure services, safety, wellbeing of clients and staff

March 24, 2020

RHD’s primary goal is to provide safe and healthy living and work environments to the people we are privileged to serve and employ, and in the communities where we live. During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, RHD has enacted a number of protocols across the RHD community to help ensure the health and wellbeing of our staff and clients.