Masks, hand sanitizer and more: a COVID-19 supply store for homeless service providers

In March, to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19, King County (Department of Community and Human Services and Public Health-Seattle & King County), City of Seattle and United Way of King County joined forces to solve a critical problem that many of our communities’ homeless service providers were facing, a shortage of sanitation supplies and protective gear.

A supply store was created to centralize supply purchasing and distribution. King County, City of Seattle and United Way of King County pooled their resources of bleach, hand sanitizer, gloves and other sanitation supplies into one warehouse. Volunteers and staff opened boxes and lined shelves with the supplies.

In a time when sanitation supplies and protective gear were hard to come by, homeless shelter and service providers could submit request forms for supplies that were filled by the supply store. Staff packaged up each order for providers to pick up at designated times, helping to equip providers to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness.

Supply Store by the numbers

From March through July the supply store served over 70 organizations ranging from large agencies serving thousands of community members to small programs serving 15 clients per month. 225 orders were filled, and together, the partners who received supplies served over 13,000 people per month.

The supply store provided:

4,199 boxes of gloves

2,051 containers of sanitizer wipes

2,088 bottles of bleach

151,080 masks

79,709 cloth face coverings

1,892 bottles of hand soap

678 gowns

148 face shields

150 thermometers

The store also provided garbage bags, paper towels and spray bottles.

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Moving online

As need has changed and supplies have begun to become more available in our community, the supply store has shifted its operations. King County’s Emergency Operations Center will be managing the store through an online portal. Providers can still order and access the supplies they need to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in King County.