Transition Wellness Center

UPDATE: December 15, 2020Transition Wellness Center Opening

On December 16, 2020, the City of Cambridge announced the opening of the Transition Wellness Center (TWC). The new temporary emergency homeless shelter at the Spaulding Hospital will host 58 beds and serve as an adult homeless shelter for guests who test negative for COVID-19. It is located on the first and second floors of the east wing of the Spaulding Hospital, which is located at 1575 Cambridge Street and was vacant prior to the renovations.The City of Cambridge will fund the entirety of the shelter operation. This project is federal CARES Act funding eligible and the City expects tosubmitapproximately $3.4 million for reimbursement to support this critical initiative.

The temporary emergency shelter at the War Memorial, which opened in April 2020 and closed in December 2020, helped the City address the urgent needs of Cambridge residents who were experiencing homelessness during the rapidly evolving COVID-19 public health crisis that emerged this spring. It allowed existing shelters to reduce overcrowding to make guests in all of Cambridge's shelters safer and to provide a site that guests who were leaving the shelters could move to. The War Memorial also provided important shelter for guests who had been served by seasonal shelters that were closing such as the Warming Center and Harvard Square Homeless Shelter.

UPDATE: August 10, 2020 - City of Cambridge to Relocate Temporary Emergency Shelter at War Memorial Recreation Center to 1575 Cambridge Street



 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who will use the Transition Wellness Center?

This temporary emergency location will be used primarily to assist individuals that lack stable or suitable housing. The Transition Wellness Center will serve members of our community who are experiencing homelessness and people who are precariously housed and/or unable to properly self-quarantine due to their living arrangements.

When will the shelter open?

The Transition Wellness Center opened on Wednesday, December 16 after residents at the temporary emergency shelter at War Memorial Recreational Center were transitioned to the new facility.

What are the shelter's hours and how many people can it serve?

The Transition Wellness Center will operate 24/7. The service areas have the capacity to accommodate approximately 58 beds. 

Why aren’t the City’s homeless shelters sufficient for this need?

COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease. The best strategy for slowing the spread of COVID-19 is for individuals to physically distance themselves from others not in their household. For people staying in homeless shelters, maintaining a 6 foot physical distance from other clients is nearly impossible because of the way the shelters are designed. As a result, many shelters are at or near full capacity.

The City is taking immediate action to protect people experiencing homelessness because many of these individuals are at high risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19. By not taking action, the City is putting the lives of both the people experiencing homelessness and those who serve them in jeopardy. The City believes that this temporary emergency shelter will help mitigate and slow the spread of COVID-19 among shelter clients, health care providers, first responders, and the broader community.

The Transition Wellness Center joins the Winter Warming Center, the Multi-Service Center and other Cambridge nonprofits in a shared mission to provide safe shelter for people experiencing homelessness and to connect themwithresources that promote their wellbeing - especially during the winter months

Why was the Transition Wellness Center site chosen?

The City-funded TWC will host 58 beds and serve as an adult homeless shelter for guests who test negative for COVID-19. It will be located on the first and second floors of the east wing of the Spaulding Hospital, which is located at 1575 Cambridge Street and was vacant prior to the renovations. 

Where will those who test positive be isolated?

Through a contract with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel, and North Suffolk will provide the medical support and social services on-site at regional isolation centers. MEMA will contract with security, cleaning services, and food service. Hotel sites will be used for COVID-19 positive homeless individuals. Transportation will be arranged to and from the location. 

Additional questions related to this initiative should be directed to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

What was the process to select this location?

The City Manager created an Emergency Task Force (ETF) and asked members to identify a temporary location to shelter the City’s most vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The ETF carefully considered and visited 17 locations across the City. The Cambridge Police Commissioner and Chief Public Health Officer recommended to the City Manager and Commissioner of Public Health that the War Memorial as the best location to house persons experiencing homelessness in a manner that slows the spread of COVID-19 among shelter clients, health care providers, first responders, and the broader Cambridge community. With support from the City Council and Cambridge School Committee, the City Manager has implemented the ETF's recommendation by designating the War Memorial as a temporary emergency shelter.

However, the War Memorial was not intended to be a long-term solution. With the Spaulding Hospital being nearby and it having vacancies on the first and second floors of the east wing, it represented an ideal location for a longer-term temporary emergency shelter. 

 

How long is temporary?

The City-funded TWC will host 58 beds and serve as an adult homeless shelter for guests who test negative for COVID-19. 

How can we ensure that the neighborhood will be safe from the spread of COVID-19 by residents of the temporary emergency shelter?

The ability to provide security for the facility and surrounding community was a top consideration for the Transition Wellness Center.  Security will be provided by Bay Cove (interior) and a dedicated team of Cambridge Police Officers will provide security for the surrounding community on a 24-hour basis. The proposed configuration and security plan will minimize any potential impact or disruption to the immediate neighborhood.

Who will be working at the temporary shelter?

The Transition Wellness Center will be managed by Bay Cove/CASPAR staff, who will be tested.

 

Will residents be screened for COVID-19 before entering the shelter?

Yes. COVID-19 testing will take place for residents staying at local shelters. Those individuals who test negative will then have the option of staying at the Transition Wellness Center. While staying at the Field House, residents will have their temperatures checked and they will be screened for any possible symptoms.

Was the Spaulding Hospital consulted?

Yes, the Spaulding Hospital leased the City part of its facility on Cambridge Street so that we could create the Transition Wellness Center.

 

If there are further community questions or concerns regarding the Temporary Shelter, who can residents contact?

Residents can reach out via a 24-hour Phone Hotline at 617-349-9770 or by email at 311@cambridgema.gov

Additional Information

Contact Information

Residents can reach out via a 24-hour Phone Hotline at 617-349-9770 or by email at 311@cambridgema.gov

Page was posted on 4/2/2020 5:13 PM
Page was last modified on 3/25/2021 4:12 PM
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