CommunityLabCOVID-19 Testing for the Homeless Community in Buncombe County

January 7, 2021

CommunityLab is committed to improving access to testing for underserved, rural and minority communities.  Our partnership began with Dogwood Health Trust who provided the support and investment, allowing CommunityLab to bring COVID-19 testing to the residents of Western North Carolina.

CommunityLab Partnership with City of Asheville & Homeless Service Providers

Homeless, Unsheltered and At-Risk Communities

Through collaborations with the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, and local homeless service providers, CommunityLab has launched a robust testing strategy to prioritize testing services for at-risk populations, including homeless people and staff at homeless service agencies.

Currently, CommunityLab is testing regularly at:

  • Haywood Respite Center: a short-term care facility for homeless adults to recover after hospitalization, surgery, or acute illness
  • Trinity Place: a homeless shelter for youth and runaways, ages 7-17
  • Non-congregate, hotel setting shelters:
    • Homeward Bound: a safe, secure temporary housing program at the Red Roof Inn for homeless woman as they await housing placement
    • Helpmate: a domestic violence advocacy and crisis response organization offering safe shelter in partnership with local hotel groups
  • Appalachian Mountain Community Health Center: located in Western Carolina Rescue Ministries, CommunityLab is providing courier pick-ups twice weekly and testing samples collected primarily for the homeless community and staff

“Testing is a critical component of the strategy for keeping people who are homeless healthy and safe during the pandemic and having CommunityLab at the table has resulted in a huge leap forward in our ability to bring testing resources to some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” said Emily Ball, Homeless Services System Performance Lead with the City of Asheville. “I’m so grateful for their partnership and the creativity and compassion they’ve brought to the planning process.”

CommunityLab held its first community outreach mobile testing event at the Haywood Street Congregation aimed at improving accessibility of COVID-19 testing for the homeless and unsheltered community in Buncombe County. The testing event marked the first rapid mobile testing site in Buncombe County intentionally focused on COVID-19 for the homeless population and approximately 70 people got tested. Haywood Street Congregation offers free community lunches at their Downtown Welcome Table and feeds up to 500 people on average each Wednesday.

We continue to collaborate closely with Buncombe County health officials, the City of Asheville and local homeless service providers to deploy necessary resources as we plan for future testing events to support testing for the homeless community.