We have been processing an influx applications for the Department of Housing’s Rapid Rehousing effort. Due to the COVID pandemic, the census in homeless shelters have lowered and funds have been committed to assisting eligible individuals with rapidly exiting shelters and returning to independent housing in the community. For information on how to access funds, please contact United Way’s Infoline at 211.
We continue to facilitate our Case Management Training Institute (CMTI) using a remote learning format. We are working to bring more trainings online for 2020 which will be announced on our website.
In our Client and Housing Assistance department (funded by Ryan White) we are still processing applications for emergency financial assistance, transportation and housing for people living with HIV on a daily basis. We have sustained some significant cuts to our Ryan White Part B assistance line items due to statewide funding limitations.
Community Distribution Center: Staff divides time between remote work and filling orders in the warehouse, while also providing coverage on the Syringe Services Program (SSP) van. The online webstore will be offline Fridays-Sundays until further notice.
Sexual Health & Testing: The team is doing outreach via social media. We are able to offer presentations, speaking engagements, training & education virtually upon request. We’re still conducting HIV/HCV testing in-person or via home test kit. Clients requesting testing will be assessed per updated COVID-19 response protocols.
Syringe Services Program (SSP): The SSPs are running on adjusted schedules. Staff are mandated to wear masks and gloves. They sanitize door handles and anything else touched by others. They use a table between the open door and clients to maintain distance.
Connections Wellness Center
As a result of the pandemic we’ve had to close our doors and discontinue center activities. The discontinuation of services includes our meals program, which many of our clients rely on. Prior to the Governor's order to cease non-essential business operations we offered grab-and-go meals, but we have not yet resumed this option, as the restaurants that we partnered with remain closed. Our Peer Support staff have been furloughed due to the cessation of center activities. We do not have an anticipated reopen date at this time.
Medical Nutritional Program: Our Registered Dietician continues to provide supplements and nutritional support to clients via phone and video conference. Supplements are dropped off to clients at a designated time and location with no direct client contact. The Dietician continues to work as a member of a multidisciplinary medical team to oversee the client's care and nutritional outcomes.
Treatment & Care
Medical Case Management: We have been very busy despite telework arrangements, and continue to complete client assessments by phone and video chat. Many clients have been linked to mental health services, as a result of isolation and increased anxiety. Requests for food and financial assistance have increased significantly and staff continues to prioritize clients’ needs. MCM’s have been diligent in obtaining financial assistance and access to available community resources for our clients. Staff report to the office once per week to pick up essential items for clients, including masks, food, and hand sanitizer.
Housing Support/Rep Payee: The HSS team continues to work with clients to complete budgets and ensure housing stability. There has been an increase in program activity as a result of increased client demand and stimulus check disbursements.
Project TLC: Our transitional case managers have not been able to enter their designated parole offices or their assigned prison locations, but continue to work with the Department of Corrections and halfway houses to ensure linkage to services. There has been an increase in referrals, as many clients are being released from incarceration to combat the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.
While the legislature has closed down, and we had to cancel what would have been the 20th Annual AIDS Awareness Day, we continue to engage in advocacy work on behalf of our clients, partners, and members.
We continue to participate in a number of health related workgroups such as the CT Alcohol and Drug Policy Council, the HIV Funders Group, Medicaid Strategy Group, Hartford HOPWA Coordinated Access Group, and the Hartford Ryan White Planning Council.
We distribute policy related information from our national partners such as the National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), AIDS United, and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
While we are uncertain about how events will work, we are planning on a version of our popular Art for AIDS collaborative art event that benefits ACT, local artists, and The Richard B. Fried Fund for ACT, a permanent endowment at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Details will be revealed at the end of June!
We also plan on a virtual AIDS “Walk” on Saturday, September 26 and WE CAN Cook is tentatively scheduled to be held at the Pond House Café in West Hartford on Monday, October 26, but we have alternative and creative plans, should we need them. Our main goal is to keep everyone completely safe in our fundraising endeavors. Stay tuned!