Downtown Daily Bread is Open.
Face masks are required. Click here for current hours.
Normal operations were interrupted on March 10, 2020, when the Day Shelter was forced to close to clients due to state-level pandemic restrictions. DDB staff adapted immediately and re-routed services via our front doors. From a folding table set up each day at the entrance, staff distributed to-go meals, mail, needed items, and advice. Only essential personnel were allowed inside the building. It was a heart-wrenching moment, as we knew first-hand the impact it would have among the clients we serve on a day-to-day basis. Indoor shelter, bathrooms, and showers were no longer available for clients. In addition, clients lost support from partner organizations who traditionally came to the shelter weekly to provide their services. Partners include The Salvation Army, UPMC Pinnacle, YWCA Veteran Services, and Dauphin County Drug and Alcohol Services.
The decision to close the shelter was also made in extreme deference to the protection of the health and safety of our clients. Social distancing was impossible in the pre-pandemic physical set-up of the shelter, a large open room with clients on cots or chairs within 1-2 feet of each other. The Day Shelter remained closed for 4 months as new health safety practices were developed. Services to our clients, though, did not stop. DDB staff continued to safely give out meals, mail, advice, and other essentials from our front entrance doors. Clients would stop by daily, but they spent most of their day at temporary tent encampments or available hotel rooms. Clients told staff that DDB was the only provider helping the homeless for several weeks in March and April.
Although the tent encampments are not an ideal living environment, their existence has helped contain the spread of COVID-19. With leadership and coordination from the Capital Area Coalition on Homelessness, Harrisburg City, and Dauphin County, the encampments were supplied in early April 2020 with porta-potties and fresh water from a fire hydrant tap. This was a significant first for local government. Community organizations, including Downtown Daily Bread, provided direct outreach services to these encampments.
The winter of 2020-2021 saw the opening and operations of the Night Shelter with a capacity of 27 men each night, down from 40 the year before due to social distancing. As we approach the summer of 2021, we anticipate operating the Day Shelter closer to capacity. New air conditioning, installed while the shelter was closed last summer, will bring welcome relief.