Brantford’s Homeless Shelter System Remains COVID-19 Free

Not only do the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 remain lower than most municipalities in the province, but the area has also avoided an outbreak of the virus within the homeless shelter system.

To date, there has not been a single case of COVID-19 confirmed within the known homeless population in Brantford. Executive Director of Rosewood House, Tim Philp, credits the quick and early action of local officials for this success. “We had been preparing for the COVID-19 crisis for quite some time,” explains Philp. “There has been meetings with the city. There have been meetings with the shelter providers, the Brant County Health Unit and Grand River Health. The city essentially put together all the major players so we can deal with this. We put together a pretty good plan.”

Executive Director of Rosewood House, Tim Philp, credits the City of Brantford for coordinating a plan that has been successful in avoiding COVID-19 from entering the homeless shelter system and reducing community spread.

The city created a quarantine site last month at the Hampton Inn on Oak Park Road. The site is managed through Rosewood House, one of Brantford’s shelter providers.

“I think the proof is in the pudding because we have not had a single case anywhere in the shelter system. We’ve had people tested and we’ve had people presumed positive, but when the testing results came in, they all came in negative. I think it’s a great tribute to all the preparatory work that was done by the city and all the partners to make sure people are safe.”

Tim Philp, Rosewood House

Shelter clients who have been ill and have been tested for COVID-19 are placed at the quarantine site where they remain in isolation until they are symptom free. In addition, clients who are not necessarily ill, but could be more vulnerable to the virus due to age, respiratory illness or other high risk factors, are placed at the Hampton Inn residence.

“They’re not in isolation in the sense that they’re locked in and can’t go anywhere,” says Philp. “We are social distancing and keep them there to keep them safe.”

Philp adds, all area shelters also follow protocols for wearing masks, sanitizing and providing appropriate personal protective equipment.

“If you look at the numbers in Brant County compared to some of the municipalities surrounding us, I think Brantford has done an absolutely outstanding job. That’s a tribute to the work the city put in to coordinate everything. Every request we have made has been answered positively and the health unit has been working closely with us in putting protocols in place. We were ready for this and fortunately, we haven’t seen a case yet and I’m hoping that continues.”

Tim Philp, Rosewood House
The city’s quarantine site at the Hampton Inn on Oak Park Road is slated to remain operational until the pandemic is declared over.

In the meantime, Philp and his team are also in the process of closing the Winter Emergency Shelter located at the former police station on Greenwhich Street.

The Winter Warming Shelter was originally scheduled to close at the end of April, however the city requested an extension until the completion of the construction of the new Marlene Avenue affordable housing project at the end of this month.

The Winter Warming Shelter will close on May 29th. The location has accommodated between 25 and 60 people each night this season.

In preparation of the warming shelter closure, clients are being re-located to either Rosewood House, the Salvation Army or another appropriate shelter for their needs.

The affordable housing project on Marlene Avenue will be occupied by some of the community’s chronically homeless with rent geared to income.

“Our aim, of course, is to find a place for everybody,” says Philp. “We’ll be losing the beds at winter warmth but Marlene Avenue will open up which gives the city an extra 30 beds there. The Salvation Army has taken on an extra 10 beds as has Rosewood, so the number of beds that are replacing the shelter are about equal. Anyone who wants one, there will be a space for them.”