Open Door Mission making do with fewer donations, no volunteers

Homeless shelters face unique challenges during pandemic
Posted at 7:10 PM, Mar 23, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Unlike stores or restaurants, homeless shelters can't close or switch to take-out only.

Homeless shelters are facing unique challenges during the pandemic, including fewer or no volunteers and more people to serve.

Open Door Mission head Candace Gregory said donations are down because people are less willing to part with money during hard economic times.

The shelter is in its second week of no volunteers and visitors. They turn volunteers away to prevent spread.

"For us to do this with less than 80 full time staff is a real challenge," Gregory said.

They are serving more meals to the homeless, but are making do with their typical meal count for now because visitors are no longer receiving meals, she said.

"Usually, we don't have children and youth programming until school's out," Gregory said.

Open Door Mission administration has been running children's programs.

Tim Sully of Siena Francis House said they are "understandably" seeing fewer volunteers as people choose to self-isolate.

The shelters are fighting against the virus inside their walls. Open Door Mission wipes surfaces every three hours and have quarantine areas ready. The shelters have been educating guests on preventing the spread.

Shelter directors and health officials across the state hold a conference call each week.

Nearly 2,400 people in Nebraska are homeless each night, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

As people face economic hardships, more people could face eviction. Omaha Housing Authority has spotted evictions indefinitely. HUD announced that those living in its properties won't be evicted though the end of April.

The CDC has provided COVID-19 guidelines for homeless shelters.

You can donate to Open Door Mission here. They are in need of the following supplies:

  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Clorox Wipes
  • Lysol
  • Boxes of Tissues
  • Toilet Paper
  • Snacks for Kids
  • Coloring Books (for Kids and Adults), Colored Pencils, and Crayons
  • Craft Kits for School-Aged Kids

You can donate to Siena Francis House here. They are in need of the following supplies:

  • Lysol Aerosol Spray
  • Disinfectant Wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Hand Soap/Bar Soap
  • Tissues
  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Shampoo
  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Ground Beef
  • Pasta/Noodles/Rice
  • Salad Dressing
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sliced Bread
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Cold Cereal
  • Breakfast Bars
  • Bottled Water