Baltimore has hired a consultant to help stabilize the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services after the office’s director Jerrianne Anthony was placed on leave, city officials said Tuesday.
Sheryl Goldstein, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff of operations, said Anthony was placed on leave and deputy director John Turner is “no longer with the city.”
Hannah L. Roberts, Anthony’s chief of staff, also reportedly submitted her letter of resignation, the Baltimore Brew reported Monday.
City officials did not offer comment during Tuesday’s press briefing about what led to the staffing changes, but Goldstein said she and Tisha Edwards, director of the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success, will supervise Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services for the time being.
The consultant will manage the office’s day-to-day operations, conduct organizational and staff assessments, and provide recommendations about the “next steps for the agency,” said Goldstein.
“We are 100 percent committed to making sure that the level of care is provided and that we’re providing the highest level of service to our homeless population,” she said.
Lester Davis, the mayor’s chief of communications and government relations, was unable to provide the name of the consultant Tuesday afternoon, but he told Baltimore Fishbowl that the city searched for a consultant who would be the best fit for the office on short notice.
“This all transpired very quickly… I think obviously what you want to do is you want to bring in the best you can and then you want to focus on continuity of operations and making sure that we can continue to serve the population,” Davis said. “We were lucky enough to get a highly qualified individual and get them on board very quickly.”
During the press briefing on Tuesday, Young maintained confidence in the city’s services to Baltimore’s homeless residents.
“We’re going to always take care of our homeless population no matter what,” he said.
Two weeks ago, protesters interrupted one of the mayor’s press briefings to call on the city to relocate more homeless individuals to hotel rooms to limit the spread of COVID-19 among Baltimore’s homeless population.
The staff shake-up at the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services comes as the city is beginning a partnership with Lord Baltimore Hotel and the University of Maryland Medical System to allow people to self-isolate at the hotel if they are unable to do so where they live, Young announced Tuesday.
The Triage, Respite and Isolation Support initiative will allow people who are experiencing moderate or mild COVID-19 symptoms, and who do not require hospitalization but are unable to self-isolate where they live, to use a room at the hotel, said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa.
The Lord Baltimore will temporarily house individuals such as people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, individuals living in multi-generational households, members of immigrant communities, people living in congregate living settings, and front-line workers who want to avoid potentially transmitting COVID-19 to loved ones at home, Dzirasa said.
Dzirasa said that hospitals, health care providers and the Baltimore City Health Department will refer people to the Lord Baltimore Hotel for triage and isolation services.
“By accepting referrals from hospitals for people who, due to their living situations, may have difficulty self-isolating, this partnership will reduce the number of interactions among residents who have tested positive with those who are negative,” she said.
Resident and clinical support staff will be on hand at the hospital, and meals and cleaning services will be provided as part of the initiative, Dzirasa added.
There are at least 2,609 confirmed coronavirus cases in Baltimore City and at least 124 Baltimore residents are confirmed to have died from COVID-19. There are also nine Baltimoreans whose deaths are suspected to be related to COVID-19 as of Tuesday morning, according to the Maryland Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.
As of Friday, congregate living facilities accounted for 25 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the City, and 34 percent of all of the city’s coronavirus-related deaths. Within those facilities, nursing homes accounted for 12 percent of Baltimore City’s confirmed coronavirus cases and 28 percent of the city’s deaths due to COVID-19, according to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard.
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