Coronavirus Serious Threat to People Experiencing Homelessness

View online

Central Union Mission



Contact: Deborah Chambers

VP, Development and Partnerships
Cell: 202-534-9965

Coronavirus Serious Threat to People
Experiencing Homelessness

Washington, DC—March 6, 2020—People experiencing homelessness are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because few of the simple hygiene precautions are available to them. People living on the street have decreased opportunity to wash their hands. What’s worse, because people experiencing homelessness generally suffer from respiratory problems resulting from poor nutrition and living in the dirt and cold, they are easier prey for the virus. Some with substance abuse issues are unaware of the danger and are insensitive to protecting their health.

Because of this, Central Union Mission already is taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at its men’s shelter located at 65 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Close quarters increase the opportunity for the virus to spread. To prevent more illness, Mission staff are encouraging and helping overnight guests and workforce program participants to keep washing their hands. Shelter staff and residents are sanitizing the building’s handrails and door knobs frequently. Hygiene precautions—as well as the usual clean bedding (which is washed daily), warmth, nutritious food and safety necessary for restful sleep—are the Mission’s defense against infection

According to Mission President and CEO Joe Mettimano, “This COVOD-19 epidemic spotlights another danger of homelessness that we tend to ignore. Not only is living on the street inhumane and unhealthful, but in pandemic situations, it’s a dangerous health risk to the rest of society. At the Mission, we care for and shelter people, and we offer them escape from poverty through our education and job programs, but against a virulent disease we are all at a disadvantage. If that’s not a compelling enough reason for ending homelessness, what is?”

The public is invited to donate funds to support our efforts, as well as bleach/alcohol cleaning products, tissues, over-the-counter medications and other items to help us prepare for the virus’s effect on our overnight guests.

Photos and interviews are available. Please contact Deborah Chambers at 202-534-9965 or for more information.

About Central Union Mission:

Central Union Mission is a faith-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the oldest private social service agency in Washington, DC. In addition to its emergency shelter, which provides almost 60,000 bed-nights each year, the Mission operates a holistic, Christ-centered transformation and workforce development program for men, provides benefits for veterans, helps people overcome addictions, operates a food and clothing distribution center which provides food for over 4000 people each month, runs a camp for underprivileged children, and offers a ministry to families and senior citizens. Charity Navigator has rated Central Union Mission, GuideStar awarded Central Union Mission a Gold Seal for our financial transparency and GreatNonProfits has given Central Union Mission a Top-Rated award.

# # #



Your Gift of $115 helps 60 people


Let's connect. Subscribe to get our latest news.