Juneau’s downtown homeless shelter takes further steps to protect patrons from COVID-19

The Glory Hall homeless shelter in downtown Juneau. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)
The Glory Hall homeless shelter in downtown Juneau. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

The Glory Hall homeless shelter is now serving meals outside to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 among patrons.

The shelter had already limited the number of people allowed inside at one time in order to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Director Mariya Lovishchuk said breakfast, lunch and dinner are being served on the covered basketball court at the Zach Gordon Youth Center. Food is being prepared in the Juneau Yacht Club’s kitchen.

Breakfast is served at 8 a.m., lunch is at noon and dinner is at 6 p.m.

Lovishchuk said she hopes this is a temporary solution. The shelter has hired additional staff to help, including some who have been laid off recently from restaurants that have closed.

Right now, there are not many places for homeless people to go during the day. Most public facilities are closed, and the Glory Hall has limited its day shelter hours to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The city’s cold weather shelter is operated by St. Vincent de Paul inside the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. It extended its hours during a recent cold snap, but is now open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

A city campground for the homeless is being prepared in a new location this year, but it’s not open yet.

Lovishchuk said she has reached out to the city to ask for a larger indoor space where people can go during the day. She hopes to have a solution by next week.

The Glory Hall usually provides beds for up to 40 people, but it’s now limiting the number of people staying overnight to 16 or fewer and considering whether to close completely.

About 20 regular patrons who are medically vulnerable have been given hotel rooms so that they can self-quarantine safely.

Thanks to a number of donations from businesses and individuals, the Glory Hall was also able to assist five people in traveling from Juneau back to their home communities, where they are now sheltering with family or friends.

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