New Haven launches pop-up with showers and medical care for the homeless

NEW HAVEN — The city’s newest initiative to help the homeless was launched Friday morning at Una Iglesia para la Ciudad, providing resources to those in need.

The initiative, aptly named One Stop Pop-up, is a service for the unprotected population of New Haven featuring a mobile shower stall provided by Power in a Shower and outreach and medical services from the Yale Community Health Van and the Cornell Scott Street medical team. Other resources and services are also provided by Liberty Community Services and other city partners.

Along with showers, toiletries, mental health and medical care, harm reduction, employment and education information will also be available.

Power in a Shower is a non-profit organization founded by Walter Harris during the height of the pandemic that provides portable showers. Harris said he slept rough for a few weeks to find out what people needed.

People could get clothes, food, use restrooms from fast food restaurants, but couldn’t shower, Harris said.

“To shower, we used to use the birdbaths or just water and splash and wipe ourselves,” Harris said. “I promised myself that one thing I would do before I died was provide showers for the homeless community.”

Power in a Shower was then born, providing large showers and household toiletries.

“If you’re clean you feel a sense of pride, you can interact with other people, but you have a sense of dignity and I think that’s emblematic of the city’s commitment to making sure we let’s support people and allow them to have that sense of dignity,” said Mayor Justin Elicker.

Elicker said Friday the idea for the pop-up came during COVID, when the city realized it needed a way to provide services to those living in encampments or cars. The team set up a drop-in center with resources and received feedback that providing showers would be vital to people’s daily lives.

New Haven also developed centers where people could receive services throughout the city during the pandemic.

“As we’re doing the hubs we’ve realized that on top of that we need to be even more intentional with our outreach efforts and that’s where we come in with this one-stop mobile initiative that we’re doing and all that is to go directly to where people are and deliver services to them,” said Velma George, homelessness coordinator for the City of New Haven.

One of the initiative’s partners, the Yale Community Health Van, provides medical care, mental health services, primary care, addictions services, needle exchange services, housing referrals , food and soup kitchen information and transportation, according to Terry Bohonnon, the van clinic. director.

During the pandemic, the van has expanded services for mothers and babies, tackling hypertension, breastfeeding, offering vaccination clinics and more, Bohonnon said.

According to Carlos Sosa-Lombardo, director of the Community Resilience Department, the city’s approach to building resilient communities is to put people at the center and meet them where they are while ensuring easy access to services.

According to the mayor and other officials, the main goal is to focus on housing first and then making sure people have the support services they need to stay healthy in their homes, on which they will work over the next few years.

Pastor Héctor L. Otero said he was thrilled to be part of this initiative to help people in his community.

“I pray that these acts of love and solidarity will be a seed that produces positive changes in the lives of these people and that they can move forward on the path to overcome their challenges and be able to progress on their own,” he said. said Otero.

One Stop Popup will make two stops per week; Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon, services will be available at New Haven Green and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon at Una Iglesia para la Ciudad, located at 99 East Pearl St.

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