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Cambridge to turn city recreation center into temporary shelter for the homeless during coronavirus crisis

City Manager Louis DePasquale announced tonight that the city will convert the War Memorial Recreation Center and garage at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School into a temporary shelter for the homeless - one large enough to be split into three areas, one for people with confirmed Covid-19 diagnoses who don't need hospitalization, one for people who are showing symptoms but have yet to get test results and a third for symptomless people who want to get off the street.

DePasquale said that Harvard and MIT have agreed to let the city use rooms there should students at the adjacent Cambridge Rindge and Latin School return before the end of the school year and need classroom space.

An emergency city task force concluded the new shelter would help protect both homeless residents and first responders and case workers from the rapid spread of the virus.

Exclusive space will be dedicated to individuals that need to be isolated due to confirmed tests or symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Separate physical space will be made available for individuals that need to be quarantined due to possible exposure to someone who is a confirmed case; unique to this site is the ability to provide quarantine space without entering the building, as individuals will be housed in a temporary setting that will be constructed and located in an underground parking area that allows easy access to care and transport. ...

Additionally, the overall complex has ample physical space to accommodate residents without symptoms or for those who may not have access to daytime services or an overnight shelter and are seeking to mitigate exposure. The City has secured a commitment from Bay Cove Human Services, as well as the Cambridge/Somerville Healthcare for the Homeless program, to provide staffing and logistical support at this location, once approved. Operationally, the activation of the shelter will occur in phases in order to ensure the safety and quality of the care and services being provided during this crisis.

The task force added that the center's design makes it easy to secure - both with private security and with a dedicated Cambridge Police team to protect the surrounding neighborhood - and that it can be quickly restored to its primary use as a rec center once the crisis has passed:

The War Memorial requires only minimal construction of temporary clinical structures in the facility’s sub-level/garage area that are easily removable. Also, deep cleaning of the entire facility can be conducted quickly to comply with environmental cleaning and disinfecting standards as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.



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Why would the city need rooms from Harvard and MIT? If students return to CRLS "before the end of the school year" and need the classroom space, shouldn't that already be when the peak infection period has long passed - thus negating the need for a temporary homeless shelter?

Or, maybe Cambridge has gotten tired of attacking Trump and have decided to imitate him now - reopening the schools by Easter (or May 4, to comply with the governor's orders), Covid-19 be damned.

Voting closed 5

"Peak" doesn't mean end - even if everything does peak around mid-April, there are still going to be a lot of people sick long after that. It's not like we all wake up April 16, or whenever, and then just go about our business as if nothing had ever happened.

But, seriously, you think Cambridge has gone all Trumpie? We're talking about a respiratory ailment, not brain disease.

Voting closed 37

If a lot of people are still sick, maybe kids shouldn't be going back to school and the economy should be kept relatively closed - especially for public school kids, many of whom have parents that work in non-telecommute jobs and come from families that don't have health insurance.

Also, the comment about 45 was meant to be sarcastic...

Voting closed 6

If a lot of people are still sick, maybe kids shouldn't be going back to school and the economy should be kept relatively closed

It will be, son. Relax. We're just getting started.

Also, the comment about 45 was meant to be sarcastic...

Work on that.

Voting closed 8

I applaud Cambridge for doing this. Especially

a third for symptomless people who want to get off the street.

This is key. The more people we get to isolate the better. Otherwise these folks would be at subway stations, riding buses, sitting on benches on streets.... being near people.

Plus early detection and get them into quarantine faster. Verses them waiting until they are very ill or a shelter picks up on it or worse, they die on the street.

And for the nay says who have a million gross things to say about doing this type of thing and about the homeless in general. Remember, this protects YOU also. Getting folks off the streets means less people to infect/be-infected. This makes it *safer* for you to do those emergency errands you're still allowed to do. The less people are near each other, the better.

It's going to take everyone to work together to beat this thing, even if it means you may not agree with some of the practices from your view point. Its time to value your life first over viewpoints. What good are those points if you're dead, so pausing on your viewpoints for a moment in crisis, might save your life (and would allow you to resume those viewpoints later.) Who knows, you might even learn something too along the way.

Voting closed 31

and it should be. People should not be deprived of the right to go outside and get some fresh air. They should just keep their distance from other people who don't live with them.

Voting closed 6

Goodness gracious I’m glad this is finally happening. Cambridge is humane to the homeless, that’s why many come here. Nonprofits like Life Science Cares help do a huge part, funded by local big biz. Albany St., Salvation Army shelters - keep Central crazy. Where is Covid really hitting? It’s not you or I holed up in our well stocked cozy retreats- it’s these people.
As soon as the libraries shut, many other places of choice to hang out in comfort ceased to exist.
It does make my skin crawl that there will be known sick people all housed together in a place of potential crude mayhem. Is it like jail or a really bad hospital? I don’t think it can get much uglier than that and I feel badly for anyone who “gets to” monitor it. Hopefully they’re compensated really, really well.
I’d think CPD who already babysit many of them in Central should have the ultimate say in how this goes over.
Oh, and how about the people who live next door?
No one has to tell me to steer far clear.

Voting closed 7

That living rough on the street isn't "potential crude mayhem".

It is actual crude mayhem.

Better they be where there are watchers and resources. Unless you want to offer up a room yourself ...

You are already supposed to be staying in ... no warning needed.

Voting closed 10

And consider your roomy apartment as well.
Your comments are rude!!!

Voting closed 6

Please show some empathy for the humans who will need this place to stay, instead of just feeling bad for the "monitors" who will care for them in this "ugly" situation.

Voting closed 9