Lifting Up Westchester to prepare for influx of homeless people

A Westchester nonprofit is gearing up for 2020’s first nor’easter by opening its doors to those in need.
Lauren Candela-Katz, the chief development officer of Lifting Up Westchester, says they never turn anybody away.
“The risk of being outside and being exposed to the elements, I think for a lot of people are going to outweigh their concern right now about COVID,” says Candela-Katz.
The organization has two shelters in White Plains - ‘Samaritan House’ for women and ‘Open Arms’ for men.
Carlos Permell, director of shelter services, says being COVID-19 free is vital to enter. “When people get to our front door, unfortunately, one of the biggest changes is, we need to know, do you know your status,” says Permell.
Everyone who visits the shelters will receive a rapid coronavirus test at White Plains Hospital. The shelters have also put cots six-feet apart and plans to enforce the usage of masks.
“We haven’t hit capacities yet,” says Permell. “Today will be a test because I think with this particular storm, we may in fact get to that level.”
News 12 is told if their drop-in reaches capacity, they’re prepared with an overflow space. If that space becomes full, they plan to work with neighboring shelters to ensure everyone gets a warm bed.
“When people come to us, we’re probably meeting them on the worst days of their life, and so what we try to do is open our arms,” says Permell.
Rockland County nonprofits like Catholic Charities Community Services also opened warming centers to prepare for the winter storm.