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COVID-19 Update from Covenant House Vancouver

At Covenant House Vancouver (CHV), our role and responsibility during this time, like anytime, is the health and well-being of young people experiencing homelessness.

There are specific challenges and unique risks related to COVID-19 for young people experiencing homelessness:

  • Young people who come to CHV have already experienced trauma; this makes it even more challenging for them.
  • Sleeping on the streets or in crowded emergency shelters means youth are more vulnerable to infections like the flu, colds, and other serious health conditions. They can suffer from extraordinarily high rates of both chronic and acute health problems because of this.
  • Food and nutrition are vital to our young people, as many of them have struggled with having enough to eat and often come to us malnourished.
  • Youth experiencing homelessness face many of the same adversities as adults, but they are still developing physically, cognitively, psychologically, and emotionally, and the risks and trauma they experience at this time can have long-lasting effects.

These are the actions that Covenant House Vancouver is taking to help prevent the spread of the virus and to support the health and well-being of our youth, staff members, volunteers, and community partners:

  • Covenant House Vancouver will rely on its own staffing resources to support essential services and has a COVID-19 Emergency Plan including remote work where possible, minimal staffing (i.e., essential personnel only), and staff travel bans on both international and domestic travel.
  • We are revising our intake process to include recommended questions from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC).
  • If a youth presents with symptoms or has been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed or is symptomatic, they will need to be immediately isolated while staff follow instructions as provided by 8-1-1 HealthLink.
  • We are maintaining a two-week stock of emergency supplies, including food, linens, masks, hand sanitizers, cleaning materials, and medicines.
  • In addition to the industry-standard cleaning protocol already in place, we have introduced additional measures to increase the sanitation of our spaces/buildings. These include:
    • Visible hand washing signage posted around buildings
    • “Cover your Cough” signs at entrances, washroom sinks, and high-traffic areas
    • Increased attention to high-touch areas – disinfecting multiple times daily with Vancouver Coastal Care Certified Wipes
    • Providing access to cleaning supplies, tissues, and hand sanitizer throughout our programs for staff and youth to use.

We rely on trusted and respected health services when researching and communicating about COVID-19. These include the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

What You Can Do:

  • We have made the decision to delay donor visits at this time for everyone’s health and safety. We will be reaching out to reschedule any planned visits. If you have questions, you can email us at info@covenanthousebc.org or call us at 604-638-4438.
  • Youth experiencing homelessness are extremely vulnerable, and it is your friendship, and your unwavering support, that is their lifeline. We appreciate you standing with us during – and after – this challenging time. It is your support that allows our frontline staff to do their critical work, provide food and medical care, and ensure our doors are always open.
  • It is our privilege to serve youth and our community, and we will continue to do so with our donors and supporters at our side.

Our hearts go out to all who have been affected by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).