Homeless Shelters Are Struggling To Get Sanitizer In The Right Hands | KERA News

Homeless Shelters Are Struggling To Get Sanitizer In The Right Hands

Mar 23, 2020

The rush to buy cleaning products since COVID-19 hit has been especially tough for homeless people who rely on sanitizer and wet wipes to stay clean. Shelters across North Texas are working to get these products in the right hands.

A truckload of goods pulled up to the Union Gospel Mission in West Dallas. Mission chaplains like William Freeman unboxed care packages donated by Operation Care International.

"You have hairspray, gel, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, all of the necessities you would need to have on the streets," Freeman said. 

These products, especially hand sanitizer, are usually hard to come by for homeless people. Shelter resident Curtis Crockett said they've become even scarcer as concerns over COVID-19 grow.

Curtis Crockett, a resident of Union Gospel Mission, said products like hand sanitizer are essential for keeping homeless communities clean.
Credit Miguel Perez / KERA

"In a crisis like this, you always need a little extra," Crockett said. "You can never have enough, because we definitely need to keep everything clean to where it kills the germs. It keeps them down mainly."

CEO Bruce Butler said the Union Gospel Mission is struggling to keep sanitizer and wipes stocked as they deal with an influx of clients.

"We now have an additional 250 to 275 people that are staying at our place 24/7," he said. 

The mission usually only operates as a night shelter, but as people are encouraged to stay indoors, the shelter's been open around the clock.

"We estimate that our increase in basic operating expenses will be about $20 to $25,000 a week in terms of staff," Butler said. "We've got to pay for food and clothing."

And for hygiene products too.

Butler said homeless shelters are always in need of sanitizer — or even better, cash donations to help pay for it at a time of critical need.