Bay Area Community Services (BACS) is so fortunate to be part of a compassionate, generous, and resilient community during this community health crisis, COVID-19. We are doing whatever it takes to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the people we serve.
Since 1953, BACS has responded to crisis after crisis in our community – and we are first responders for thousands of people experiencing mental health crises, housing crises, and other crises. Our team is filled with experts at crisis management, as part of the work the team does every single day.
BACS cannot close our crucial programs down. As Governor Newsom reminded us in his update, schools that are closing will have a significant impact on those children who only get their one meal a day from school, and those children who get their only shelter at school because their family is homeless. The same is true of BACS participants. We are, in most cases, the only shelter people have; the only meal people get; the only social connection people get. We are taking all the recommendations seriously to protect our clients, protect our team, and reduce the potential impact of the Coronavirus.
BACS leadership has been actively partnering with city, county, state, and federal agencies to determine the best response to this constantly evolving situation. Here are some of the concrete steps BACS has taken to protect our clients, as well as our front-line employees so they can continue to support our vulnerable community members:
- Following the Shelter in Place order issued 3/16/2020, which is clear in asking essential services – like housing, mental health, and social service providers – to stay open. BACS is staying open.
- Our team is doing whatever we can to help people experiencing homelessness to decrease their risk during this outbreak. Hygiene and other precautionary measures are much more challenging when you are unhoused.
- BACS is impacted by the N95 mask shortage, and has very few in stock. We are deploying these to our most vulnerable staff and community members.
- We installed additional hand washing stations at four of our sites in Hayward and Oakland to protect people at our Housing Fast program locations, and we are implementing further precautionary measures per HUD recommendations for homeless service providers.
- At our physical locations, BACS has increased janitorial services to 5 days a week across our sites. Staff are also wiping down surfaces with disinfectant hourly.
- BACS is ordering temperature devices and will take temperature/follow accepted protocol of what constitutes fever and symptoms of COVID-19 — of all new intakes plus any existing client that is exhibiting symptoms.
- For clients that have symptoms, we are enacting protocol of isolation/separation/immediately connecting them to medical care.
- BACS is practicing social distancing wherever possible.
- BACS is restricting visitors to all programs.
- Large group meetings will not be scheduled for the foreseeable future – all meetings should be held via phone or video conferencing.
- BACS is using our larger sites to configure additional space for increased social distancing while still supporting ongoing social services.
- Staff in the community are practicing extreme precautions, including no longer picking clients up in cars. Instead, when face-to-face meetings are necessary, we are supporting clients with ride-share apps.
- Our team is what makes us strong, effective, compassionate, and successful. We are doing everything we can to support our staff in taking PTO for personal health or to care for family members. Also, BACS will offer a temporary ‘catastrophic’ benefit of 14 days of additional paid time off to any regular full-time or regular part-time staff diagnosed with the coronavirus.
- We are being fully transparent with staff about plans and procedures, and are hosting a phone conference Q&A three times per week for the foreseeable future.
There are more than 360 people on our team right now doing whatever it takes to support our most vulnerable community members – and we rely on individual donations. Federal, state, and local funding is slow to arrive, and faces major bureaucratic hurdles in getting to the “front lines” of services.
Please, donate today. Your donation helps our ‘first responders’ stay engaged with the community. Your support helps minimize the risk for our most vulnerable community members.