The City of Aberdeen on Tuesday closed its temporary homeless camp to visitors as a public health precaution until at least April 27. A notice at the gate of the camp said only participants who are registered to remain overnight and have agreed to abide by the rules of conduct are allowed entrance to the camp.
The restriction is “based on public health advisories issued by federal, state and county agencies to reduce exposure to the novel coronavirus and the associated Covid-19 illness,” the notice said.
There are 43 people staying at the city’s temporary homeless camp as of Wednesday, according Aberdeen city officials, and their hand washing facilities are limited to a garden hose and hand sanitizer.
The city is working on getting a hot water washing station, said Mayor Pete Schave on Wednesday.
According to a man who identified himself only as Larry and said he’s lived at the camp since it opened last July, the only running water in the camp is a cold water garden hose.
“That’s their potable water source, there’s hand sanitizer in the (portable toilets) and at the guard shack,” said Councilwoman Tawni Andrews.
When asked about the hand washing facilities at the camp, the city’s Community Development Director Lisa Scott confirmed that they’ve had running water since the camp opened.
Larry, who sat at a picnic table in the camp next to crutches, described the hose as “nasty,” but said conditions have been improving at the camp overall since a number of people staying there were kicked out for breaking camp rules. He said the closure of many service providers like churches and the library is negatively affecting the homeless community.
UNION GOSPEL MISSION
The Union Gospel Mission is one of the few places that is still open to serve the homeless this week. The Mission is still serving three meals a day for 30 people, said manager Luke Tackett. The dining room is being disinfected after each meal, as are the showers. The dorm is open, but has limited space as of Wednesday. There is a 20 person limit in the day room, Tackett said.