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Southern Indiana homeless shelter to require COVID-19 vaccination or negative test

Intake specialists will help individuals who need to get a vaccine or COVID-19 test.

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind — Homeless shelters don’t often have many requirements to get a bed, but one southern Indiana shelter is now requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test.

The president of Catalyst Rescue Mission, Jim Moon, acknowledged those experiencing homelessness may struggle to meet these requirements due to access. But Moon said his team would assist guests getting the vaccine or a test.

While the shelter is a place where people are constantly living in close quarters, there is another reason for the new requirements, according to Moon.

“The children that we have in the building aren't able to get the vaccines yet. So, we are trying to protect them by only bringing people in with a negative test or a vaccine,” Moon said.

As of Friday, there are 66 people at the shelter, including two children. But just a couple of weeks ago, there were 13 kids—the highest number Moon had seen at the shelter in the past year.

As of right now, only two guests are not vaccinated.

“A 66-year-old person who is homeless, they don’t have the computer skills to get online, to get themselves a test or to get themselves a vaccine,” Moon said.

Now, intake specialists will assist in taking anyone to get a vaccine or a test. Those waiting for test results are not allowed to stay in the shelter. It’s a shift from how Catalyst previously functioned.

A $729,000 grant from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration allowed the shelter to quarantine all new intakes and anyone who tested positive at hotels, but that money expired in July.

“We've got calls from Indiana Department of Corrections, Clark County Jail. We have gotten calls from Clark Memorial who are COVID positive, trying to find a safe place to quarantine. But we don't have that anymore,” Moon said.

Moon is asking the state to reallocate funding so programming may continue as the delta variant causes cases to rise in the area.

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