TYLER, Texas — While many of us are taking precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic, there are those who cannot.
“People in poverty don’t have this stability to simply stay home, wash their hands and stay safe,” said Christina Fulsom, founder and CEO of the East Texas Human Needs Network.
After founding the East Texas Human Needs Network in 2012, Fulsom has dedicated her time to helping the homeless. The organization is made up of different individuals and organizations working together for strengthened programs, connection and improved awareness of services that meet essential human needs.
“There’s a tremendous need in this community that seems to be invisible to so many of us,” Fulsom said. “COVID-19 has put a spotlight on it.”
At the beginning of April, the nonprofit started helping people in Tyler without a safe place to go.
“The work that we’re doing right now is identifying individuals that are homeless, that are at high risk of complications if they were to be infected with COVID-19 and placing them in isolation housing,” Fulsom said. “We have 24 individuals right now. We even have a baby that was born.”
There are two different locations for isolation housing, one is for protection from the virus and the other is for healing for those who do or might have it.
The City of Tyler does have a Salvation Army, which offers some a roof over their heads at night.
“That shelter cannot take individuals in that can’t take care of themselves and I think that makes perfect sense,” explained Fulsom. “They have to protect everyone there.”
Fulsom says the isolation housing is still the only option for some like the man she found under a bridge after being released from a hospital.
“Mr. E has stage four congestive heart failure, he has severe rheumatoid arthritis,” Fulsom said. “Isolation housing has provided him a space in which to rest and heal it’s safe environment, where he can have three meals a day where he can bathe each day, with some help, but he can stay clean, wash his hands constantly.”
The East Texas Human Needs Network is providing intensive case management including feeding, counseling, medical care, medication and medical equipment, clothing, benefits applications, housing placement, and more, which does not cheap.
“With some infections just becoming evident and some exposures, especially in the homeless community just becoming evident that our budget may be about $50,000,” Fulsom explained. “That’s a lot of money that we need to raise. And we already have about 9,000 so far, so we need more funding.”
If you would like make a donation for the isolation housing, follow this link.