Community Foundation Teams with Health Care Systems, Shelters to Aid Homeless

The Oklahoma City Community Foundation and affiliated individuals are providing $200,000 to area health care organizations and shelters to assist nearly 200 people experiencing homelessness amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Community Foundation is working with a coalition of Central Oklahoma’s largest health systems and area shelters to provide a safety net for Oklahoma City’s homeless community. Beginning next week, the shelters will begin assisting many individuals who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 but have nowhere to shelter in place after discharge. The shelters will also assist others who do not require hospitalization but are symptomatic.

The Central Oklahoma Community Health Impact Team (COHIT) has partnered with Grace Rescue Mission and City Rescue Mission to care for these individuals through a grant from the Community Foundation and a large donation from one of its trustees.

Grace will shelter up to 40 individuals with underlying health conditions, and City Rescue Mission will shelter up to 150 others who have either tested positive for the disease, are awaiting test results or are symptomatic. The shelters will also provide food, laundry and cleaning services. They will not provide medical care, but facility staff will include nurses to monitor symptoms and connect patients with telemedicine and virtual care. The Homeless Alliance will serve as operational lead, helping to organize the shelters, contractors and funders.

The Community Foundation is providing a $150,000 grant from its 2020 Disaster Relief Fund, and an additional $50,000 is being donated by Community Foundation Trustee Ronnie Irani and his wife, Shahnaaz. Additional funding is being provided by the Oklahoma City-County Health Department.

“Vulnerable Central Oklahoma individuals experiencing homelessness really don’t have anywhere to seek safe shelter in this pandemic,” said Nancy Anthony, president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. “COHIT has been successful at identifying this problem as well as creating a solution to isolate these individuals to keep them safe along with others in our community.”

What is COHIT?
The Central Oklahoma Community Health Impact Team is a collaboration of four nonprofit health systems in central Oklahoma, including INTEGRIS Health, Mercy, OU Medicine and SSM Health St. Anthony that are working together to better address the health needs of our community. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma serves as an advisor, partner and resource to the team. In response to the Covid-19 emergency, COHIT has also collaborated with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, the Homeless Alliance, City Care, Oklahoma City Homeless Services, Oklahoma County, Grace Rescue Mission and City Rescue Mission.