For members of Madison’s homeless community, finding safe places to rest and recuperate is a priority in the best of times. But as the spread of COVID-19 leads to the closure of public facilities, finding shelter is becoming more challenging. When announcements about avoiding gatherings and staying home proliferate, what do those without homes do?

That’s what homelessness advocates like Tami Fleming, executive director of Shelter from the Storm Ministries, are thinking about.

“It’s just a little scary to think about what might happen,” Fleming said. “The first thing I thought is I wondered how many people I’ve known through street outreach aren’t going to make it. A lot of people that are homeless are homeless because their health is compromised already. They have to go places where there’s meals and services and that puts them at risk.”

Homeless people in Madison have access to a few services like The Beacon day shelter, the Salvation Army shelter and St.John’s Off the Square Club. But those operations mostly survive thanks to the work of volunteers who are now being told to avoid the kind of contact necessary to deliver their usual services. Fleming also said many homeless spend time at the library or state Capitol. Read More