A former Catholic high school in Pittsfield, Mass., is being made available this week to shelter people who are homeless.
The Berkshire Eagle reports that local shelters are expected to start setting up shop this week in the old St. Joseph's Central High School to handle an increase in the number of homeless people since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer had originally said that the space would be used strictly for homeless people who need to undergo coronavirus-related isolations and quarantines, but the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency later decided to use a city hotel for medical isolation purposes.
The Catholic Diocese of Springfield granted the city access to the former school earlier this month for general use during the crisis.
Jay Sacchetti, vice president of shelter and housing for ServiceNet, says the agency will "very quickly" move between 55 and 65 people into the space.
Local leaders such as state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier have been concerned about crowding at local shelters since the coronavirus crisis began.
"I think it's well-located in that it's close to the health center, so I really do believe the St. Joe's solution is the way to go," she says.
Before St. Joe's became available, Sacchetti said the agency had been working to set up a tent on their upper North Street property in order to expand its capacity. The state's building inspector denied that permit last week, he said.
"Then we moved beyond that idea to St. Joe's, which is better," he said.