Stories & Insights

Crossroads COVID-19 Updates

Health & safety updates from Crossroads Rhode Island. Please check back for regular updates!

July 11, 2020

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Health & Safety Update: What moving back to shelter means for homeless neighbors

July 11, 2019

As of last week, Crossroads has safely moved our emergency shelter clients back to our facilities. With the help of the state, these clients were previously staying at a local hotel to practice social distancing over the past 8 weeks during the height of COVID-19.

On July 1, 21 women settled back into our Women's Shelter and 35 men arrived back at Harrington Hall. The remaining 37 clients at the hotel will continue their stay over the next few weeks as they work with their case managers to move into housing.

Our organization and our clients are grateful to the hotel for providing a healthy space for our clients to socially distance. "The hotel has been a huge blessing for me, I wish it would last a little longer...I feel somewhat normal," one of our shelter guests shared about their stay in a recent interview.

As our clients move back into the congregate shelter setting, we have put the following precautionary measures in place:

  • Limiting emergency shelter capacity to less than half, allowing our clients more space to better socially distance
  • Increasing deep cleaning of all shared spaces and shelter facilities
  • Providing education and supplies for clients to practice healthy hygiene habits

While these procedures will protect and limit the risk of exposure to illness for our neighbors in need, we know the best solution to keeping them safe and healthy, and ending their homelessness, is housing.

Through COVID-19, our staff has worked tirelessly to house nearly 70 clients, and will be helping more who were staying in the hotel move into housing later this month. As eviction moratoriums come to an end and many Rhode Islanders remain unemployed, we know our work is far from over. And we simply cannot do this work without the help of our donors and community partners.

As we participate in programs like Housing Help RI, Housing NOW, and Providence's collaborative housing investment, your advocacy and support of these efforts will ensure that Rhode Islanders in need will overcome their homelessness, or avoid it altogether.

We know and appreciate that moving from the comfort of a hotel back to congregate shelter may be both frightening and challenging for our clients, but together as a community, we can help them end their homelessness for good.

Health & Safety Update: Housing the homeless during a pandemic

June 27, 2020

It's been a while since I've shared one of these updates-I think that's good as it indicates things have settled down a bit. But, as we all know, the virus is still with us.

Those experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island are exceptionally vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, as they oftentimes suffer from chronic health conditions and lack consistent access to primary care.

As such, with the help of our community partners, Crossroads continues to implement measures to keep the individuals and families we serve safe and healthy, including:

  • Providing safety supplies like masks and hand sanitizer,
  • Moving clients living in congregate emergency shelter into a hotel where they can safely practice social distancing,
  • And, most importantly, moving clients into housing.

Through the support of donors like you, more than 30 clients have been able to move from emergency shelter into housing, where they can best practice the personal hygiene and social distancing recommendations from the Department of Health.

We've been fortunate to have minimal infections among staff, residents and shelter guests, which means our efforts are working.

None of this would be possible without the critical participation of our community partners and donors.

Your generosity during this challenging time allows us to continue provide crucial services to our neighbors in need so they can overcome their homelessness.

Thank you again for all you do for those experiencing homelessness.

Stay healthy,

Karen Santilli
President & CEO

Health & Safety Update: Safety precautions protecting Crossroads Community

May 16, 2020

Due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, we knew it was only a matter of time before someone staying or working at one of our shelters or in our housing tested positive for the virus. So we were concerned, but not surprised, when four clients and two staff members tested positive last week. Thankfully, all are asymptomatic.

Based on the low number of positive test results that we’ve experienced so far our efforts to help prevent the spread of the virus are working. In fact, our low infection rate caught the attention of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who asked to review our protocols so that they can better understand what is working. So all our social distancing, mask-wearing and hand sanitizing is paying off!

Three Clients Test Positive at Crossroads Family Center

Of the four clients who tested positive, three were staying at the Crossroads Family Center in Providence.

One of them, a mom of four, broke down upon hearing of her test results. “Oh my God, I failed my mom, I failed my kids,” she cried.

After reassuring her that it was not her fault and that she didn’t fail her family, we were able to move her out of shelter and into her own apartment within 24 hours. She is currently resting and under quarantine in her new home with her children and elderly mother for two weeks.

The other two clients, one of them a ten-year-old boy, were quickly moved into quarantine facilities being run by the RI Department of Health.

For the safety of our other families, the Crossroads Family Shelter was fully sanitized per RIDOH and CDC protocols. Crossroads staff were also tested for the virus and we are relieved to report that only one came back positive.

One Client Tests Positive at 160 Broad Street in Providence

Concerned about the positive cases at the Crossroads Family Center, we then asked the Rhode Island Department of Health and Providence Community Health Center to conduct testing in our permanent supportive housing at 160 Broad Street in Providence.

A total of 126 tests were conducted and only one resident and one staff member tested positive. Fortunately, both were asymptomatic as well. Our resident was immediately moved to a quarantine facility and our staff member is currently self-quarantining at home. To help prevent further transmission, contact tracing and notification was conducted.

Hotel Rooms Extended Through May 31st to Help Keep Shelter Clients Safe

Given these cases, we were understandably relieved when the State of Rhode Island received the funding necessary to extend the hotel room contract they secured for our shelter clients from mid-May to May 31st.

As you may recall, last month we worked with the state officials to move more than 130 clients from our Women’s Shelter, 24/7 Community Room, and Harrington Hall into a local hotel where it is much easier for them to practice safe social distancing.

Like senior care facilities, the congregate nature of shelters makes it easier for viruses to spread. People experiencing homelessness also tend to have multiple chronic health conditions, which may put them at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

According to Crossroads staff, those staying at the hotel are thankful and relieved to have a private room and bath through the end of the month. The in-room Keurig coffee maker has also reportedly been a big hit!

During their hotel stay, Crossroads is continuing to provide these clients with the case management and support necessary to help them eventually end their homelessness and become self-sufficient.

Feeling Thankful and Fortunate Ten Weeks In

So, it’s been a crazy week, but ten weeks into this global pandemic, we feel extremely fortunate to have had as few cases as we have. All the cleaning and safety protocols that we’ve put in place to protect our employees, shelter guests, residents and other clients have really paid off.

We are also extraordinarily thankful for the outpouring of support from the Crossroads community. So many of you have reached out with offers of help and words of encouragement. Thank you. We couldn’t do what do without you.

We will get through this together!

Health & Safety Update: News from the CMO's Desk

April 24, 2020

by Laura Calenda

It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than two months since Rhode Island confirmed its first case of COVID-19. Since then, the virus has touched nearly everyone we know in one way or another. Here at Crossroads Rhode Island, we’ve been heartened by your show of support during these challenging times. So many of you have reached out, offering words of encouragement, dropping off critical emergency supplies and making donations. Thank you. It means a lot.

Your support is allowing us to continue our mission of helping homeless or at-risk families and individuals find a place to call home. It’s also making it possible for us to take the increasingly stringent steps necessary to help safeguard our clients’ health during the current health crisis. This week has been a particularly busy one at Crossroads, so we thought we’d share a few of the highlights.

So Far, So Good: No COVID-19 at any of Crossroads’ Shelters

We feared the worst when one of our part-time staffers at Harrington Hall, the largest men’s shelter in Rhode Island, was hospitalized with COVID-19 recently. Thankfully, the aggressive cleaning, education and social distancing protocols that we put in place in March seem to be working so far.

All of our clients at Harrington Hall, our Women’s Shelter and 24/7 Community Room were tested recently and 100% came back negative for the virus! To say we were relieved would be the understatement of the year.

We’re not naïve enough to think that this will continue to be the case, but its good news for now. We’re also happy to report that our staff member is feeling better.

Shelter Tents No Match for April Showers

In early April, the State of Rhode Island set up tents at Harrington Hall and outside our headquarters in Providence to help with social distancing. But April’s extreme weather, which included lightening, snow, rain and high winds, quickly presented challenges.

For the safety of our Women’s Shelter guests, we were forced to move them out of the tent and into our dining room at 160 Broad Street in Providence several times. The women weathered the storm, sleeping on mats on our dining room floor until it was safe to move them back outside. But it quickly became clear that shelter tents were not going to be a good long-term solution.

In Anticipation of Virus Surge, Hotel Rooms Secured to Keep Shelter Clients Safe

So we were thrilled when the State of Rhode Island secured 120 hotel rooms for our shelter guests this week. Although Crossroads has managed to keep COVID-19 at bay so far, the congregate nature of shelters presents a serious risk for people experiencing homelessness, particularly in light of the virus surge expected towards the end of April and early May.

People experiencing homelessness often have multiple chronic health conditions, which may put them at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. In order to better protect our clients from the virus, this week we moved all of our Women’s Shelter and 24/7 Community Room guests, as well as the oldest and most at-risk men from Harrington Hall, into a local hotel.

According to Crossroads staff, the move went very smoothly and shelter guests were incredibly thankful and relieved to have a private room and bath where they can safely socially distance for the next several weeks.

“It was so powerful to see the looks on their faces when they saw their new rooms,” reported one Crossroads staffer. “They were so thankful to be able to enjoy things that many of us take for granted, a warm shower, clean sheets and a hot cup of coffee. It brought tears to my eyes.”

As part of the arrangement, Amos House will provide meals and Crossroads will continue to provide the essential case management and housing-related programs and services necessary to help these people achieve self-sufficiency and end their homelessness.

Thank you for your continued support! We will get through this together!

Health & Safety Update: Thank you from the President's desk

April 10, 2020

Dear Friend,

I hope this note finds you and your families well during this challenging time in our community.

I would like to take a moment to personally thank each one of you for supporting Crossroads, our staff and the resilient clients we serve.

Over the past few weeks, I have been stunned by the outpouring of generosity from our community. From your donations, to in-kind supplies, to words of kindness, I am reminded time and again how grateful and proud I am that we are able to serve our Rhode Island community.

Because of support like yours, we have successfully been able to move several Crossroads clients into housing, including three individuals and two families just last week.

This is truly the best solution to keep our clients safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. While in housing, these individuals and families will be able to better practice social distancing and hygiene. None of which would be possible without you.

While our work is certainly far from over, it is important to remember our small victories and note that it is because of everyone's collective efforts that we can continue to serve this vulnerable community 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We are truly in this together and our neighbors in need need us more than ever.

Thank you for all you do and please stay safe and healthy!


Karen Santilli
President & CEO

Health & Safety Update: Harrington Hall employee tests positive for COVID-19

April 6, 2020

Over the past several weeks, and with the help of the State and Rhode Island community, Crossroads and its fellow homeless service providers have been taking aggressive precautionary measures to protect our clients and staff as well as prevent the spread of COVID-19. These protocols include directing employees with any symptoms to stay home, increasing cleaning and social distancing, and enacting measures to reduce shelter hopping. In recent days, Crossroads has started checking employees' temperatures before they are allowed to begin work.

Due to the vulnerability of the population we serve, and the congregate nature of emergency shelter, however, we recognized that it was a strong possibility that those in our community were at risk of exposure to COVD-19. And late yesterday evening, we learned that one of our part-time employees at our Harrington Hall shelter has tested positive for COVID-19. Upon arrival to Harrington Hall on Friday night, the employee was found to be exhibiting a fever and immediately sent home. This employee is now in the hospital receiving treatment and we are hoping for their speedy recovery.

The health and safety of our clients and staff is our top priority, and as such, we are actively working with the State and Rhode Island Department of Health to take additional measures, which may include:

  • Assistance in conducting contact tracing
  • Providing testing for all Harrington Hall staff and any shelter guests who had direct contact with the employee
  • Making arrangements with a local hotel to place clients who are required to self-quarantine

Additionally, over the weekend, Crossroads worked with the State to erect tents adjacent to our Harrington Hall and 160 Broad Street locations to help shelter guests better practice social distancing. Equipped with 64 beds, these tents are heated and and will be for select shelter guests below the age of 60. Currently, the tents are being used strictly to help safely spread out our shelter clients and will not act as testing or quarantining sites.

We are closely monitoring the situation, but at this time no Crossroads clients or shelter guests are known to have tested positive for COVID. Crossroads will continue to do everything it can to limit infection and protect Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness.

Thank you all for your continued support! Please be well.

Health & Safety Update: In-kind needs

March 31, 2020

We are happy to report that as of today, are no suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Crossroads community. This of course, could not be possible without the help of our donors; we extend our gratitude to you!

To continue keeping those we serve and our staff safe and healthy, we are looking to restock our pantry with critical items like:

  • Toilet paper
  • Travel-size hand sanitizer (1 oz)
  • Hand sanitizer pump bottles (12 oz)
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Thermometers
  • Rubber gloves
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Paper towels
  • Adult underwear (any size)
  • Gift cards

If you or someone you know has these items to spare, and would like to donate to neighbors in need at Crossroads, please contact

We are in this together! With the help of supporters like you, we will work to continue keeping our community safe and healthy.

Health & Safety Update: How you can help

March 19, 2020

Thank you to all who have reached out to Crossroads in support of our clients and staff during this time. It is heartening to see our community come together in an effort to help make a difference for those who need it most.

Because of underlying health issues, weakened immune systems and limited access to healthcare, individuals and families experiencing homelessness are at a greater risk of contracting the Coronavirus.

That's why we are taking proactive steps to help protect the health and safety of our clients, our staff members who make the work we do possible and the many Rhode Island communities in which we live and work.

Although there are no confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 at Crossroads, we do expect that to change.

In response, we have been working closely with state officials, the Rhode Island Department of Health and other homeless service providers to implement precautionary measures designed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Increasing the frequency of cleanings at all of our facilities
  • Distributing soap, hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes
  • Educating staff and clients on preventative measures and best hygiene practices
  • Practicing social distancing by limiting meeting sizes and increasing space between shelter guests
  • Conducting case management by phone, instead of in-person, when possible
  • Suspending congregate meal services for clients and shelter guests and providing box lunches and dinner instead
  • Suspending our education and employment programs
  • Suspending our corporate volunteer program
  • Guaranteeing shelter beds for men at Harrington Hall to reduce "shelter hopping"
  • Conducting presumptive health screenings for clients and visitors arriving at Crossroads

In anticipation of an escalation in cases of COVID-19, we are also working to identify spaces in our various facilities where we would be able to isolate a client who is ill while we coordinate with them to visit with a primary healthcare provider.

As you are no doubt aware, the situation continues to change rapidly. During this time, the best way that you can support our efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by making a monetary donation to Crossroads. Your gift will allow us the flexibility to best address the needs of our clients as conditions continue to evolve.

In the meantime, we will continue our ongoing efforts to move people out of congregate shelters and into housing, where it is easier for our clients to avoid infection and practice good hygiene.

Thank you again for your continued support. We will get through this together!

Donate to Crossroads today.

Health & Safety Update: Precautionary Measures

March 13, 2020

Dear Friends,

We wanted to take a moment to thank you for your continued support of Crossroads and interest in the health and safety of our clients and team. In light of the continually evolving situation surrounding COVID-19, we would like to share some updates with you.

At this time, there are no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 at any Crossroads Rhode Island facility.

However, we recognize that individuals and families experiencing homelessness are more vulnerable to infectious illnesses, and protecting those we serve and our staff is our top priority.

In working with the Rhode Island Department of Health and following guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, we have implemented the following precautionary measures to protect clients, guests and staff from infection:

  • Increasing the frequency of cleanings at all of our facilities
  • Distributing soap and hand sanitizer to clients, guests and staff
  • Educating staff, visitors and clients on preventative measures and providing information on best hygiene practices in multiple languages
  • Proactively developing and implementing procedural measures to accommodate clients and staff in the event of suspected or confirmed cases of infection at Crossroads
  • Advising employees to stay home if they feel unwell

We will be sure to be in touch with any new developments regarding COVID-19 and the Crossroads community.

Thank you again for your support of Crossroads and our mission!

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