FORT WORTH (WBAP/KLIF)- The City of Fort Worth is ramping down the overflow emergency night shelter in the Fort Worth Convention Center and expects to have the facility cleared on June 19.
The City and its partner agencies began operating the temporary shelter on March 18 to help the city’s emergency shelters cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Strict Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing guidelines forced the shelters to reduce the number of individuals they usually care for. The guidelines are in place to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The downtown facility will operate its last night as a shelter on June 18. Between now and June 18, the number of homeless individuals at the FWCC is being reduced weekly. City staff and others are working to find housing for the individuals. Some will return to the shelters.
“The shelters are being cautious and they want to take things slowly and incrementally as they increase capacity,” said Richard Zavala, Park & Recreation director, who has been overseeing the temporary shelter operations.
The City is looking for a location outside of downtown that would continue temporary sheltering for about 100 people still searching for housing. That facility could operate until Dec. 30, 2020.
Fort Worth is also negotiating a lease for a vacant, former 44-bed acute care facility in southwest Fort Worth where homeless individuals who are COVID-19 positive or who have been exposed to the coronavirus and require isolation will be sent. It will operate until Dec. 30, 2020.
The 48 RVs adjacent to the Convention Center that were used to house ill or suspected ill clients will be removed by June 19. So far, nine people stayed in the RVs. RVs at the Will Rogers Memorial Center designated for first responders and other essential personnel are also being removed.
On average, each night about 330 people had food, medical care and a place to sleep at the Convention Center.
Decontaminating the Convention Center will begin June 19, with the facility back in operation by July 3. Texas recently began reopening its economy. The center is hosting two conventions in July.
Fort Worth received $158.7 million from U.S. Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Some of that money will cover costs of the FWCC shelter operations, as well as the plans moving forward. To date, about $1.9 million has been spent on the operation, including health care, security, management and meals.
The shelter is a cooperative effort of the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition, the Day Resource Center, JPS Health Network, MHMR, MedStar and the City’s Public Events, Park & Recreation, Neighborhood Services, Police and Fire departments, and Directions Home program.