Central Texans team up to help shelter homeless people with COVID-19

Coronavirus

Homelessness in Austin (KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard).

AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than $400,000 has been raised through an emergency fund to provide shelter for homeless people in Austin who are suffering from COVID-19.

The initiative, led by Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, aims to contain the spread of coronavirus among the local homeless population, preserve hospital capacity and prevent health and social systems from being overwhelmed.

The school has teamed up with Austin Public Health, CommUnityCare Health Centers and the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition to provide a safe place for homeless people with the virus to self-quarantine and receive healthcare.

So far, the campaign has raised $108,000. This has been doubled by local entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria and his wife Eloise, who vowed to match the first $250,000 raised.

The initiative also received a separate $200,000 donation from an anonymous donor, making the overall total $416,000 so far.

It means a lot to DeJoria, who was forced to live in his car while trying to make his way in business.

“This is a time when we need to all come together to help those less fortunate,” DeJoria said.

“There are a lot of people experiencing homelessness on our streets. We want to shelter them. We want to protect them. In another time and place, I was one of them.”

UT says that donations will help ensure homeless people have a safe place to isolate, will aid with testing and provide help to meet basic needs.

The initiative will serve as a pilot for a long-term project to provide temporary shelter and care for homeless people who have other medical conditions.

“It’s impossible to shelter in place if you don’t have a home. Our community has a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Dell Med Dean Clay Johnston, M.D., Ph.D.

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