Temporary Emergency Shelter at Cambridge’s War Memorial Recreation Center To Partially Open Tomorrow

Site Will Provide Care & Resources for Vulnerable Cambridge Residents

Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale today announced that the Temporary Emergency Shelter at the War Memorial Recreation Center located at 1640 Cambridge Street will partially open tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14. The shelter is intended to help address the urgent needs of Cambridge residents who are experiencing homelessness or unable to safely quarantine in their residence due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Since April 1, the City has been working to turn the War Memorial Recreation Center into a temporary emergency shelter that will safely house those experiencing homelessness. It offers one centralized location with distinct service areas. A converted garage at the Temporary Emergency Shelter will be the first service area to open tomorrow.

It will support residents who need to be quarantined while they await COVID-19 test results (because they have been in contact with someone who tested positive or display symptoms consistent with COVID-19). Later in the week, the Field House is expected to open to residents without symptoms or exposure and who have no access to daytime services or an overnight shelter.

The War Memorial gymnasium, another dedicated area in the Temporary Emergency Shelter, was originally planned as exclusive space for residents who need to be isolated and receive treatment due to confirmed tests or symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Last Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders announced that the Commonwealth will be contracting with the Freepoint Hotel by Hilton, located at 220 Alewife Brook Parkway, to provide exclusive space for regional homeless individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. The hotel space is slated to open this week. The War Memorial gymnasium will now be reserved for additional isolation capacity if the need arises.

“As a community, we value the well-being of our residents, above all else, and we have an obligation to protect and support our most vulnerable,” said Mayor Siddiqui and City Manager DePasquale in a joint statement. “Current conditions in many of our shelters do not allow for the recommended standards for social distancing to be observed, increasing the level of risk for this vulnerable group. In other cases, some residents may not have a place to quarantine due to various complex issues. The War Memorial is an ideal location to insulate our most vulnerable residents who are in need due to the ongoing public health crisis, while providing them with ample space and various resources, including medical support, food, showers, bathrooms, changing space and other activities. We want to thank the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for opening a regional isolation facility to provide care and support to individuals experiencing homeless who test positive for COVID-19.”

The War Memorial was highly desired due to its extensive space, close proximity to the Cambridge Hospital and ample on-site accommodations. The location will be staffed 24/7 by clinical staff from the Cambridge Health Alliance, as well as area service providers and volunteers. On-site security for residents and staff will be provided by private security and the Cambridge Police.

“With the opening of this Temporary Emergency Shelter, we will decrease the spread of COVID-19 among some of our most vulnerable residents as well as spread within the larger Cambridge community,” said Dr. Assaad Sayah, Commissioner of Public Health for the City of Cambridge. “The more we can do to keep all residents safely distanced and quarantined, regardless of where they call home, the greater chance we have to prevent increased illness due to this epidemic”.

The City has compiled an updated list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the War Memorial shelter, as well as a dedicated phone number and email address for any questions or concerns. Please see https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/warmemorialfaqs for more information.

The City and the Cambridge Public Health Department continue to work closely to identify resources to reinforce the City’s response and preparedness activities. For more information and updates on COVID-19, please visit the City’s dedicated information page: https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19.

More information regarding the Commonwealth’s contract with the Freepoint Hotel can be found here: https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/News/2020/04/commonwealthofmassachusettstocontractwithcambridgehoteltohousecovid19individuals.

Page was posted on 4/13/2020 3:09 PM
Page was last modified on 4/13/2020 3:13 PM
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