Cold poses a challenge for the homeless of Kent County in the best of times.
But COVID-19 makes a perilous situation unbearable.
Code Purple, a nonprofit that shelters homeless people during the winter cold, is trying to help.
“It’s a struggle,” said Ennio Emmanuel, president of Code Purple in Kent County. “People are seeing a resurgence of homeless people in places they’ve never seen them before.”
To aid those struggling with housing during the cold weather, beginning Tuesday, Code Purple will open up a shelter for men at People’s Church of Dover, 46 S. Bradford St., and one for women and children at Maranatha Life Changing Church, 1235 E. Division St., also in Dover.
The shelters will open if temperatures dip into the 30s.
COVID-19 restrictions and closures have created challenges for the homeless, who have lost places to use the bathroom or to congregate, Mr. Emmanuel said.
“People don’t like to see homeless people right in their backyard,” he said. “They don’t feel the pain that someone else is going through. Someone is going to bed outside. We cannot forget them. They are normal people. Their circumstance is temporary.”
Code Purple gives people the opportunity to get out of the public view.
“They are loved,” he said. “They don’t want to be stared at like a product, exposed. They want to feel normal.”
To do that, in the time of a pandemic, has been a struggle.
The Code Purple organization is using the same precautions as hospitals do in its shelters, Mr. Emmanuel said. It is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, as well.
Site workers are checking the temperatures of all visitors and doing COVID-19 screenings. They are also building Plexiglas dividers between the beds. They have purchased sanitizing machines to spray down beds after clients leave.
Code Purple has also developed a plan for people who are COVID-19-positive, by arranging hotel rooms where people can quarantine and transportation to area hospitals, if necessary. It also has changed from providing meals in a buffet-style to giving out meals that are packaged and that clients eat at their beds.
These new restrictions have created additional needs for Code Purple — most urgently, beds.
“If a client has symptoms, we have to toss the bed,” Mr. Emmanuel said.
This turnaround on beds has created a need, so the organization has been holding a bed drive. For more information on the drive, or Code Purple in general, visit codepurpledelaware.com/donate.