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News Release: May 7, 2020

Peel's COVID-19 response helping to flatten the curve of spread in homeless shelters

(Brampton, May 7, 2020) – The Region of Peel and its partners are cautiously encouraged that protection protocols in shelters, transitional housing and street outreach, as well as temporary emergency housing for homeless individuals to self-isolate and recover, are helping to flatten the curve of COVID-19 spread in the community’s most vulnerable population.

As a key protection measure, Peel is using hotels and other temporary sites to reduce shelter occupancy and ensure appropriate physical distancing. Currently, just over half of shelter residents are in hotels:

In March 2020, a collaborative group of medical, health and social service experts put in place isolation and recovery sites to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

“By acting quickly through upstream public health interventions, we were able to support people experiencing homelessness in the Region of Peel, and very possibly saved lives in the process,” said Dr. Naheed Dosani, Medical Director, COVID-19 Homeless Response, Region of Peel. “The first measures were based on prevention, where currently 51% of homeless residents were offered and now reside in hotels. This promoted physical distancing within the Region’s shelters. The second was a rapid, mobile and scaled-up response with testing at sites.”

“For those suspected or confirmed to have the virus, holistic wraparound health and social care, including mental health and primary care, was provided with the ultimate vision to support clients with pathways to housing with stable health,” said Clinton Baretto, Nurse Practitioner, Peel COVID-19 Homeless Isolation and Recovery Program. “The downstream result: only a handful of cases have been diagnosed and more people are connected to health and social supports than ever before.”

“As COVID-19 numbers have reduced, isolation and recovery programs put in place appear to be flattening the curve of COVID spread in Peel’s shelter system,’ said Aileen Baird, Director, Housing Services. “Many thanks to our staff and partners for their quick and decisive action to protect the health and safety of our shelter residents and frontline staff.”

The isolation program has capacity to shelter up to 100 households who are homeless or can’t self-isolate and who have risk factors for exposure or have been tested for COVID-19. The recovery program supports homeless individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and provides both medical and social supports. It has capacity to support 40 individuals. Currently, 17 shelter residents (2%) are in the homeless isolation or recovery programs, with 4 individuals who have tested positive in the recovery program.

“We’re ensuring that residents in our isolation and recovery program receive primary health care, provided by our Medical Director and Nurse Practitioner, receive aftercare from our Nurse Practitioner upon recovery, and we are connecting them with primary care providers for the long term,” said Baird. “That’s a key focus on stabilizing people in our shelter system. We continue to work in partnership with our residents to assist them in finding permanent housing and then provide them with supports to assist them to keep their housing.”

The collaborative partnership responsible for designing and implementing the homeless shelter system isolation and recovery programs include:

“Delivering municipal human services during the COVID-19 response has called for collaboration on a whole new level,” said Janice Sheehy, Commissioner, Human Services, Region of Peel. “Supporting people experiencing homelessness in a pandemic meant leading a broad community effort involving non-profits, service organizations, paramedics, our local municipalities and health care providers. I want to thank everyone in Peel who worked with the Region to compassionately support vulnerable people across Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga.”

For help finding a shelter or if you have urgent housing needs, visit us at peelregion.ca/housing.

Media contacts

David Hodkin
Communication Specialist
Region of Peel
Tel: 905-791-7800, ext. 4674

The Region of Peel works with residents and partners to create a healthy, safe and connected Community for Life for approximately 1.5 million people and over 175,000 businesses in the cities of Brampton and Mississauga and the Town of Caledon. Peel's services touch the lives of residents every day. For more information about the Region of Peel, explore peelregion.ca and follow us on Twitter @regionofpeel and Instagram @peelregion.ca.