Safe Harbour, which is located in a section of the ground floor of The Light House’s 10 Hudson street facility, acts as the community arm of the organization. During normal operations, Safe Harbour provides a warm and welcoming space for those struggling with homelessness to come inside for simple dignities such as a cup of coffee, food, shower and laundry services, clean seats to rest on, and compassionate case management. Much has changed though, since the onset of the global pandemic.
Near the start of the Covid-19 crisis, to ensure the safety of clients, staff, and volunteers, The Light House responded by adjusting procedures and operations in all aspects of their programs and daily services. For instance, as an alternative to what had been operating in their designated indoor spaces, all Light House food programs are now offered in open-air spaces. Both a drive-through and outdoor walk-up pantry option are available in their back parking lot multiple times per week, and pantry items and boxed meals are also provided at other distribution sites in the county. To ensure access to food outside of pantry hours, bagged lunches and MREs (meals ready-to-eat) are available daily. In addition to food, Safe Harbour staff regularly provide items such as toiletries, tents, clothing, and masks to help homeless neighbors cover their basic needs.
Safe Harbour’s case management services also had to move to open-air spaces. They now provide their in-person case management outside on picnic benches with laptops. Case management services include eviction prevention and Rapid Rehousing support, medical bill assistance, and referrals to community agencies for issues such as domestic violence, addiction treatment, crisis response, and government agency navigation and benefits. Over the past few months, Light House staff have helped hundreds of new clients who are seeking these services because of hardships associated with the pandemic.
One primary focus of Safe Harbour case management is homelessness prevention, which means keeping struggling neighbors housed so that they don’t fall into homelessness. Many individuals and families served through Safe Harbour recently were secure in their income and housing situations prior to the pandemic, but due to these new hardships were at risk of losing their housing. Safe Harbour staff have provided over 70 of these impacted households with direct financial assistance through the Cares Act Program and successfully diverted them from becoming homeless during the pandemic. With the support of Safe Harbour staff, these individuals and families were able to stay safely in their homes.