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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Breaking Ground During the COVID-19 Outbreak

We know that you care as much as we do about ensuring that our most vulnerable neighbors are able to access housing and services. And during the COVID-19 outbreak, our work has become both more important and, in some ways, more challenging. The safest way to show your support during this time is by making a gift – your donation right now helps us continue to provide vital services to homeless New Yorkers, especially those living unsheltered on the streets. While we dearly miss our volunteers, we’ve suspended all events and efforts until we can safely welcome volunteers into our buildings again.

What We Are Doing

Below is a snapshot of what we’re doing, and a few things you can do to help our staff, clients, and tenants during this crisis:

Working closely with our partners at the state and the city to ensure that we can protect the health and safety of Breaking Ground staff and clients at our drop-in center and three Safe Haven transitional sites in New York City.

Ensuring the safe continuity of our street outreach services to unsheltered New Yorkers across Brooklyn, Queens and Midtown Manhattan.

Collaborating across departments to ensure more than 1,300 seniors who call Breaking Ground home – and are most at risk to the effects of COVID-19 – have sufficient supplies during stay at home orders.

Enhanced sanitizing at all of our program and permanent housing sites, and ensuring that our staff (while observing social distance) has the resources they need to successfully operate our buildings through the crisis.

Checking on our tenants in permanent housing regularly via telephone, including those who are self-quarantining or self-isolating – staff in our permanent housing sites are making sure tenants have sufficient supplies, monitoring their health and symptoms, and coordinating special, protected pick-ups of garbage for those who are quarantining or isolating.

Helping tenants and clients whose employment has been impacted by “stay home” orders connect to unemployment insurance and other enhanced resources made available through the CARES Act.

Our Asset Management team is leading the sourcing and weekly distribution of supplies to all program and housing sites; everyone across the Executive leadership team is thinking creatively about how we continue to find personal protective equipment (PPE) from any source possible.

Monitoring clients and tenants who are symptomatic, have been exposed, or tested positive.

Short and Long-Term Challenges

Transportation for staff has become more and more challenging. COVID-19 has affected the MTA workforce, and our staff report trains are increasingly crowded again. Where possible, we’d like to provide our staff with opportunities to get to program and housing site with alternative transportation.

No one truly knows how long the pandemic will affect New York City, but we do know that our staff, clients and tenants – especially our seniors and those with complicating health conditions – will continue to need to protect themselves and one another from the transmission of COVID-19. We are anticipating a need for PPE for an extended period of time. While we have a short-term supply, we are nervous about supply in the months ahead.

  • Meanwhile, our incredible friends – like the sharp team at Hazel Village – are making fabric masks for medical professionals and clients at our Safe Haven transitional sites. If you have connections to anyone who can assist with PPE supplies, please get in touch!

Thank you to the entire Breaking Ground community, and especially our essential staff members on the frontlines. We are stronger together (especially with the appropriate physical distancing).

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