Homes For Low Income Seniors - David Brooks lives in a home for low-income seniors on Chicago's Near West Side. Residents are not wearing masks or gloves to avoid the coronavirus, he said: "They are touching everything in the elevator, in the laundry room. And everyone and all family and friends come in and out without checking. (for Knowles Anderson)
David Brooks, 75, who has heart failure, a broken hip and macular degeneration, is terrified. Conditions at his low-income senior housing on Chicago's Near West Side — the Congressman George W. Collins Apartments — are "deplorable," he said.
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Residents are not wearing masks or gloves to avoid the coronavirus, he said: "They are touching everything in the elevator, in the laundry room. And everyone and all family and friends come in and out without checking.
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No one is checking on residents to see if they need help, Brooks said. And no one knows whether residents have tested positive for COVID-19 or died, even though ambulances have pulled up to the door several times.
"This building is not safe," he said in mid-June. "Everything that is happening in America, this situation does not affect the lives of the elderly."
Nationwide, more than 1.6 million seniors live in low-income housing funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development - the majority of them Apartments include common areas, elevator, stairs, mail room, hallway and laundry room. Things that can spread the coronavirus.
Many of these elderly people have been suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, and have no means of income.
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But at the center of the disease, this population - the age group considered most vulnerable to disease and death - has been largely ignored.
"This is a time when we should be providing support and guidance to these seniors, but we're not," said Linda Koch, vice president of housing for LeadingAge, a homeless shelter organization. profits and long-term care providers. to represent the . "Nobody sees what's going on."
There are no national data available on the prevalence of COVID-19 in low-income households. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not collect or require states to do so. The same is true of HUD and local housing agencies: it's "independent living" and managers aren't expected to monitor the health of residents.
Low-income homeowners only receive information about COVID cases when residents or family members volunteer information. For the most part, no specific tests were done. A rare exception: Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans in mid-May to introduce coronavirus testing in 40 public buildings in New York.
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"Without testing, there's no way to know how many people have the virus," said Michael Kane, executive director of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants. "Our concern is that there may be an infection occurring in nursing homes or assisted living facilities."
"People are dying in these buildings, and we don't know what they're dying from," said Geraldine Collins, president of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants.
The situation in Chicago shows how difficult it is to analyze the risk factors in these situations. Although Chicago's health department requires "housing facilities," including nursing homes, to report two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 within 14 days, details have not been released. So there is no way to know where the virus is spreading.
The Chicago Housing Authority, which manages 55 housing units and 9,500 seniors, "is not required to check or verify cases and, due to privacy issues, we do not question the health status of individuals," the statement said. said the agency in a statement. .
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At the federal level, HUD's preparedness plans did not include pandemics and its guidance for housing operators in the early stages of the pandemic was poor. Landlords were not required to notify residents of a COVID case.
Recently, the HUD has been more on the transparent side. On May 21, HUD stated that multifamily housing authorities must, "in conjunction with local health officials, communicate the potential exposure to COVID-19 to all residents and residents." employees, volunteers and visitors."
On health concerns, HUD has deferred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issued recommendations in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in retirement communities and independent living facilities.
This includes canceling group activities; informing people, employees and visitors about COVID-19; Clean and clear; Screening of people entering buildings; and limited visitors.
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It's happening less and less for low-income seniors in Chicago homes, according to Lori Clark, executive director of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, which has 700 members.
When the organization called members in mid-March, "we started hearing terrible news," Clark said. Residents say they haven't received any information about staying safe. No one checks who goes in and out. There were few houses while workers stayed at home.
At the Elizabeth Woods Apartments, a seniors' home run by the Chicago Housing Authority, "we felt abandoned," said Carmen Bettins, 68. "They didn't clean, and they didn't prepare. also the field for the invisible enemy that is now in control... They did not give us any information about what to do.
"I am a target of the coronavirus virus: I am a senior citizen." I am asthmatic. I have an anxiety disorder," Betances said. "Every breath I take, I take it with fear, with fear that I'm going to die of this invisible monster."
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In late March, Betances and others began using their cleaning supplies to clean all the doors in the six-story building twice a day. They cleaned the water fountains, bought in the lobby, chairs and tables in the community room, as well as washing machines and laundry.
Older adults, like David Brooks, are at a higher risk of getting seriously ill from the coronavirus, according to federal guidelines. Dewta lives in the Congressman George W. Collins Apartments, a low-income housing complex for the elderly on Chicago's Near West Side, where he called the health conditions "deplorable." (for Knowles Anderson)
On May 20, the housing authority said in a statement that it is fielding more than 3,000 calls a day to check on seniors, requiring property management companies to clean up and solidifying the site three times a day, and about six new Chicagoans. . Corona virus testing site.
The complex where Brooks lives is run jointly. His operations were taken over on April 1 by WinnResidential, the nation's largest manager of affordable housing.
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"The immediate priority in this transition is to protect the health and safety of citizens," wrote Ed Cafasso, senior vice president of WinnCompanies, which owns WinnResidential. He said that now the mess is being cleaned up several times a day.
Cafasso said the company has helped thousands of elderly people living in 520 properties to get food, groceries, furniture and masks; prescription renewal; and access to great health.
Food aid is an urgent need, as people cannot get hot food in the centers and many are afraid to go to the shops.
It is also necessary: help with the use of technology, and improve the Internet connection so that the elderly can participate in telephone and personal communication with friends and family, easing their isolation while the stay-at-home orders remain. Most federally assisted senior housing does not have public Wi-Fi.
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In the run-up to the pandemic, few housing operators were more prepared to respond. In and around New York City, Community Personal Assistance Services operates 11 low-income senior housing facilities with 1,400 residents. Social workers have identified vulnerable people at home and are in touch with them, said Mohini Mishra, a director of the administration.
"If someone comes from the hospital, we try to check with the family," Mishra said. "Will they need home care?" Do they understand the meaning of self-quarantine?
In seven self-help homes, there were 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the residents and 12 people died on June 10.
At Paul's Stewart Center Apartments in Chicago, officials called the police after the first person diagnosed with COVID-19 refused to stay in his apartment in mid-March.
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"We reiterated the guidelines from the CDC and the Chicago and Illinois Departments of Health," said Sean Person, chief operating officer of the Southside campus, which has about 1,300 residents. But this man refused to listen. We had to do something." As of June 10, he said, 10 people had tested positive and two had died.
The intervention is participating in a federal pilot project to bring nurses to nursing homes to help assess people's needs.
But they can only do so much. "There's a store in this building, and no one does social distancing," said Shirley Moore, 71, who lives in an apartment on the campus, which is have COVID-19 and are not sure how to get infected.
Her 72-year-old husband has a worse case of COVID-19 than her, she said. He was in intensive care for three weeks from June 10, including eight days on a ventilator, he said, and
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