Features Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

How COVID19 Has Unexpectedly Helped the Homeless Community

By Riley Martin

Photography by Al McLeroy

The Trinity Center is a non-residential program that works with the homeless and those in need in the Walnut Creek and Central Contra Costa County area. Their mission is to discover the pre-eminent possible problems that cause homelessness and eliminate them. Their goal is for all the members of the community to be in safe and satisfactory housing. COVID19 has disturbed the support system the Trinity Centerworked hard to create. 

Leslie Gleason, the executive director at the Trinity Center said, “One of the saddest things of this experience is that we find and provide housing for some of those that are in need and they get to visit us and talk about how happy they are with their new housing. This is their community, their friends, and now it’s sad because they need to stay in their homes due to the shelter in place. We are tremendously grateful they are in housing though.” COVID-19 has troubled Gleason and her co-workers. However, it has brought an unexpected reality into the light. 

Gleason speaks of the “hidden homeless”, ones that spend most of their days in a library,  shower at gyms, and use restrooms wherever they will be allowed to. This virus has led them straight to the Trinity Center. It has provided a necessary push to getting them the help they need with housing, food consumption, and other hygiene necessities. The center is incredibly grateful for the new people in their community because it has enabled them to provide support and care for so many more who need it. 

This virus also brings negative aspects that the Trinity Center has not experienced before. An increase in costs spent on: hand sanitizer, hand soap, paper towels, and masks. This is all to maintain the upkeep needed for issuing a safe place to go during this time. On top of this, they have noticed some struggling to change their natural human instinct to be close to each other when connecting. The support system created by the Trinity Center houses many friends within it. To ensure protocol for the social distancing is followed, strict measures are enforced including the standard six feet apart, along with the wearing of masks. Making sure the staff and the people in need are safe has been a tasking job for the Trinity Center.

The Trinity Center has taken this widely perceived negative circumstance and turned it into a goal to conquer, and in some ways even put a positive twist on it. The center has been keeping more people off the streets and more in the center itself, despite it being such a difficult time for everyone.