COVID and the Homeless in Arcata - A Success Story

From Michael Winkler /Oct. 13, 2020, 8:52 a.m.


Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, I was involved in an important and successful effort to help the homeless and prevent the spread of COVID in our area.



In mid-March, at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. I was contacted by Phil Lazzar a community member who was concerned that there could be an outbreak of COVID among the homeless and that this outbreak could spread throughout the community.



Phil and I were concerned both out of compassion for the homeless and out of concern for the rest of the community.



As Mayor, I shared our concerns with Arcata City Manager Karen Diemer.



Phil, Karen and I held a series of Zoom meetings to discuss the situation and to plan our strategy.



Karen and City staff set up two sanctioned campgrounds for the homeless; 7th and H and at the Transit Center. The campgrounds had water, porta-potties, hand-washing stations, garbage service, food provided by Arcata House Partnership, and safety and security. We then gradually moved the homeless into hotels, permanent housing, the Night Shelter and into transitional housing.



We paid for it through CARES Act funding. We helped protect the homeless from COVID and protected the community from a potential conduit for COVID. The sanctioned campgrounds were shut down when they were no longer needed.

I am extremely grateful for what we together were able to accomplish.