Juneau homeless shelter closes after positive cases

A blue, three story building next to other buildings, with cars parked beneath
The Glory Hall homeless shelter in downtown Juneau. (Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

The Glory Hall homeless shelter in downtown Juneau closed this week after two people experiencing homelessness tested positive for COVID-19. 

According to a release from the City and Borough of Juneau, seven others are in quarantine. 

Glory Hall Director Mariya Lovishchuk said they learned about the positive test results on Monday.

“We immediately moved everybody out of our night shelter into hotels and we closed the day facility,” Lovishchuk said. 

The city tested 75 patrons and staff at the Glory Hall last Friday. All of the results came back negative. Still, the city plans to do another round of testing this Friday.

Depending on the results of those tests, Lovishchuk hopes the Glory Hall can reopen next week. 

She said this incident underscores the need for a larger homeless shelter with more space. 

The Glory Hall has plans to build a new shelter in the Mendenhall Valley and is hoping the city will help fund it.

“If we had a bigger building than our existing facility, people could meaningfully isolate from one another and we could actually ensure safety and compliance with social distancing standards and we just simply cannot do it in our current facility. It’s just simply too small,” she said. 

The city’s emergency warming shelter at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center remains open for overnight sleeping. 

At Monday’s Juneau Assembly meeting, city staff discussed the need to provide day services to the city’s homeless population as the weather grows colder. 

Many of the public facilities where people would normally go during the day are closed or have capacity limits because of the pandemic.

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