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Newsletter: Star House Update on COVID-19

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

Star House: Essential Services for Youth Experiencing Homelessness

On March 22, Governor Mike DeWine issued an official "Stay at Home" order for operations at all non-essential businesses. He clarified that citizens are permitted to leave home for health and safety reasons, to obtain necessary supplies and groceries, to do outdoor activities and to go to work if they are an employee of an essential business. As an essential social service agency, offering safe respite for one of Central Ohio's most vulnerable populations, Star House will continue to operate the drop-in center according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health department and Homeland Security guidelines. Please join us in especially thanking our committed frontline team for ensuring young people without homes have a safe respite during the pandemic! If you would like to express thanks to our frontline heroes, please click here to comment on our recent Facebook post on our page.


Star House COVID-19 Plan

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation. Global efforts at this time are focused on lessening the spread and impact of the virus. We are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other city, state and federal health agencies and partners for up-to-date information. We are taking the following steps, based on those inputs, to protect our guests, staff and limited visitors from the spread of infection. Here's a look at what we're doing:

· New, temporary service hours: As of March 30, Star House's drop-in center will be open for services between 7pm and 11am.

· On-site volunteers and agency partners: Star House is utilizing social distancing to ensure the safety of guests, staff and partners. Non-health-related partners and volunteer visits are suspended until further notice. All non-essential activities, e.g., art, yoga, etc., are cancelled until further notice. Medical, mental health and food services will continue. For the time being, on-site medical services provided by Nationwide Children's Hospital and Primary One will continue. MidOhio Foodbank is our food delivery partner.

· Building admittance: We are taking the temperature of everyone (guests, staff, partners) entering the building and assessing COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone with a fever will be referred to medical services. Guests who are referred to medical services will receive a "survival pack" that includes water, food, supplies and a bus pass, if needed. COTA is now offering free transportation. · Facility sanitation: Star House is taking precautions to keep our drop-in center as clean as possible. We have increased the frequency of cleaning high-touch areas in the common areas, such as door handles, using disinfectants proven effective against COVID-19. Safe food handling procedures in the kitchen are being heavily enforced. The kitchen is being wiped down throughout the day, including surfaces, knobs, and handles. Guests are required to wear gloves and food sharing is limited. Additionally, we are increasing the deployment of anti-bacterial hand sanitizers throughout Star House.

Clean Turn deep cleans and sanitizes the drop-in center daily. · COVID-19 Training and Precautions: We are educating staff and guests on COVID-19 symptoms and the following recommendations for preventing the spread of germs: 1) Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 2) Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you sneeze or cough. 3) Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. 4) Keep a safe six-foot distance from others to prevent disease spread. 5) Stay home if you are sick. If you are ill, seek medical advice without delay.

· Donations: We have changed our policies around donations for the time being to ensure the safety of our staff, guests and limited visitors.

Food donations: Food will be accepted from MidOhio Foodbank and approved restaurants. We will not accept food from individuals. Please contact with questions. Youth are permitted to take one container of food with them per day when they leave the facility.

Item donations: We are temporarily halting in-person item donations from community members. We will only accept Amazon deliveries, until further notice. If you or someone you know would like to donate, our COVID-19-specific Amazon Wish List is here. Our general Amazon Wish List is here. Monetary donations can be made here. Please contact with questions. We will follow health experts’ advice to open packages as usual and wash hands immediately afterwards.

We will continue to monitor the situation, assess the risks and implement changes to ensure the highest level of safety. Thank you for doing your part to ensure the safety of everyone.


Recommendations for Decision-Makers Regarding COVID-19 and Youth

Communities are banding together to address the unprecedented health crisis of COVID-19. Central Ohio is no exception. Extremely difficult decisions are being made at all levels to help safeguard families and children. As community responses evolve, Star House, along with Columbus City Schools, Kaleidoscope Youth Center and Huckleberry House have provided the following recommendations regarding the unique needs of youth, ages 12-24, who are experiencing homelessness — namely youth who meet the McKinney-Vento Education Act definition of homelessness. This includes unaccompanied minors and young adults who are living outside, sleeping in cars or abandoned housing, couch-surfing, living in motels, living in emergency shelters, abandoned in hospitals or experiencing similar circumstances. Health experts recommend that someone who becomes ill should take the following first steps: stay home and avoid public areas. However, for anyone experiencing homelessness, these initial steps are not possible. As providers for youth experiencing homelessness, our goal is to help ensure that youth without homes, who may contract COVID-19, have access to safe quarantine and that their basic needs are met. We recommend that the following actions be taken: · Medical referral: Provide guidance for youth serving agencies on where to refer ill clients and what quarantine and social services they will receive if deemed contagious. · Quarantine: Provide quarantine for youth experiencing homelessness who become ill, e.g. empty college dorms and motels. Form a quarantine task force to secure quarantine partners. · Housing: Place an emergency moratorium on evictions, including evictions from hotels/motels. · Food: Ensure that healthy food is available and accessible for youth in all neighborhoods. Ensure that quarantined youth have food safely delivered to their door. · Childcare: Twenty percent of homeless youth are actively parenting. We need to ensure that the healthy small children of young, homeless parents are cared for in the event that their parents become ill. Example: Safe Families for Children ( offers temporary childcare as a supplement to Franklin County Children Services.

Update: We are grateful for the community's attention to these five issues. After issuing these recommendations, we now have clear guidance on where to refer symptomatic homeless youth for medical care. There is promising activity toward providing self-quarantine options, but no firm solutions yet. There is a moratorium on evictions. MidOhio Foodbank continues to provide food for Star House guests and we have a potential partner willing to deliver food to potential quarantined youth, if needed. Lastly, the Ohio Children's Association does not anticipate a shortage in emergency care options for the children of infected parents who may become unable to care for their children. Nonprofits and faith groups have stepped up to offer additional support, if needed.


Current Needs at Star House

Email with any questions.

See the many ways you can help us meet our needs by clicking on the buttons below. · You can access our COVID-19-specific Amazon Wish List here. · You can access our general Amazon Wish List here. · If you would like to make a monetary donation to support our essential services, please do so here.


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