BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Mayor Marty Walsh has announced a comprehensive plan for Boston's homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the repurposing a Suffolk University dormitory.
At a press conference on Sunday, Mayor Walsh announced hundreds more beds would now be available for homeless individuals at existing shelter locations.
"The City has secured over 240 additional beds to increase social distancing in existing shelters and aid those in need of a home to safely quarantine or isolate themselves and reduce the further spread of COVID-19 in Boston," Mayor Walsh said. "The City, with support from Suffolk Construction, built an isolation and quarantine facility with a capacity of 38 beds next to the 112 Southampton Shelter."
Walsh said there are also 172 beds available inside a repurposed dormitory at Suffolk University, which will help "reduce congestion and increase social distancing in existing shelters in Boston." The dormitory facility will be managed in collaboration between the Pine Street Inn and the Boston Public Health Commission.
Another 70 beds will be available at a former hospital at 1515 Commonwealth Ave in Brighton, which is set to open within the coming days. There will also be 250 bed capacity available at the Newton Pavilion, a former Boston Medical Center hospital that is being reopened "for people receiving medical attention."
"This was unthinkable, quite honestly, two months ago or three months ago," Walsh said. "And now it's right here on our doorstep. There's no briefing and there's no procedures in place to deal with this."
Collectively, the city and its health partners have conducted over 8,000 screenings of Boston's homeless population, tested approximately 100 individuals, and identified five positive COVID-19 cases.
"People in need of homeless services should not go directly to Suffolk or the new site at Comm Ave in Brighton," Walsh said. "They should go to one of our existing shelters which will remain open, including Pine Street Inn, Woods Mullen, Southampton Street, Boston Rescue Mission, and Rosie's Place."
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