Goodyear Police Department assists homeless residents during pandemic

    Goodyear Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) is maintaining welfare checks on the vulnerable homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Most of the homeless that have been contacted are aware of the pandemic and are trying to avoid unnecessary contacts,” the police department said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not breaking up homeless camp sites during the pandemic since there simply are not enough shelter beds to go around. Goodyear residents have noticed a reduction in panhandlers around town, illustrating that the homeless are indeed heeding the dangers of COVID-19.

A video put out by the police department April 4 informed the public of what they are doing on a daily basis to ensure the health and safety of the local homeless. Sgt. Mary Ward of HOT has continued to perform her usual duties as well as handing out COVID-19 informational flyers and practicing heightened cleanliness. Ward has put into practice social distancing, repeatedly washing her hands and sanitizing the inside of her vehicle after each contact.

HOT also gives necessary supplies to the camp sites such as water, sanitizers and toilet paper. An unnamed homeless woman in the video describes her gratefulness for the outreach.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has allocated $5 million for homeless shelters in the $50 million package added to the state budget to respond to COVID-19.

So far, the homeless population in Goodyear has not been affected. However, citizens and experts worry that the combination of confined camp sites and weakened immune systems could be a cocktail of devastation.

According to The Human Services Campus, Arizona’s largest emergency shelter at 13 acres, preparations are well underway in anticipation. The shelter has begun to spread beds out, create confinement areas and set up mobile sinks for hand washing. Because many services that the homeless use have shut down such as the libraries and meal providers, shelters are even more stressed.

Ducey has exempt the homeless from being mandated to be sheltered at home. However, HOT is able to keep track of the homeless camp site locations and the state of the homeless themselves. They do this by using a software application database provided by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development called the Homeless Management Information System.

The Human Services Campus has even started using this resource to record health characteristics of individual homeless. This database is providing much needed protection from an outbreak.

So far, the community of Goodyear is holding up well with only two known COVID-19 cases, none of which were homeless. The first case was a senior citizen and the second a Goodyear Ballpark employee according to bigmedia.com.

“There have not been many calls about the homeless, but a lot about whether or not people can leave the state, if roads or borders are closed and if people are required to stay in AZ at all times,” Goodyear police dispatcher Cynthia Hudson said.

Goodyear continues to weather the storm.