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Imperial County Takes Care of the Vulnerable During The Pandemic

-Editorial

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors will submit an application for the California Department of Housing and Community Development emergency solutions grant program for Coronavirus aid and relief efforts. 

The Board of Supervisors took action to allow the Department of Social Services to seek state funding and continue their efforts to support the homeless population that are at risk of being infected by COVID-19. 

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Pursuant to this Act, additional funding was allocated for the Emergency Solutions Grant to be utilized to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 among individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or receiving assistance. 

In July of this year, the board authorized the Department of Social Services, as the Administrative Entity of the Imperial Valley Continuum of Care, to apply for this grant program. Imperial County was awarded $1,028,100; the funding will support additional homeless assistance and home prevention activities to mitigate the impacts created by the virus. The funds are earmarked for the following eligible activities: emergency shelter, homeless prevention, street outreach, rapid rehousing, and homeless management information system.

On October 2nd, the California Department of Housing and Community Development announced the availability of an additional approximately $253 million in federal funds to support the second round of funding. Imperial County’s estimated allocation for this round is $2 million. These funds, made available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be prioritized to address rapid rehousing and emergency shelter. 

Funding will be used to address racial disproportionally among homeless populations, with the objective of achieving the equitable provision of services for black, native and indigenous, Latinos, Pacific Islanders, and other people of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the homeless and COVID-19.

In other related items, the board ratified an agreement between the County of Imperial and Imperial Valley Fairgrounds for the homeless housing program. Imperial County agencies continue to work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population by employing the same principles that are used for housed individuals; social distancing, hand hygiene, and covering a cough. Homeless individuals who screen positive for COVID-19 need to be isolated during the often-lengthy process of being evaluated, tested, and awaiting test results. 

Imperial County has implemented the COVID-19 Homeless Housing Program designed to promote containment, prevention, and centralized case management for the homeless population who are COVID positive. Ten trailers have been designed as the isolation of homes for the COVID positive during this isolation period. The department of social services mobile unit has continued to serve as a case management center to assist with the delivery of wraparound services to the COVID positive persons in isolation.

Case management conducts holistic individual needs assessments to provide the coordinated care management of each individual or family housed. The aforementioned services assist in the recovery and stabilization of the homeless population and the prevention of a mass COVID-19 outbreak. 

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