FeatureNeighborhood News

How one West End service provider deals with Covid-19

by Jerry Rothstein
Among the West End enterprises that I would call “iconic,” Sibley Manor is one that provides irreplaceable benefit to fragile and vulnerable members of the community — people with low incomes, trying to raise their families, often by working several jobs, always under pressure in one way of another.
To be able to live in affordable, well-maintained housing, with management that actually cares about them, is a blessing.
Sibley Manor has 55 buildings with 550 apartments providing housing for about 1,650 on site, as well as another 60 off-site in town homes, duplexes, single-family houses and another small apartment building also owned by Sibley Manor, Inc.
When Covid-19 began to emerge as a major threat, Sibley Manor wasted no time in initiating best practices:
• Building cleaning staff focused on a daily round of disinfecting all public spaces: railings, door handles, panels, mailboxes and surfaces.
• Maintenance tech and painting staff avoided occupied units and focused on preparing vacant units for occupancy.
• Information has been posted and updated in all buildings with instructions on how to deal with the threat and help to stop the virus spreading.
Sibley Manor staff has also been connecting with relevant agencies to learn what services are affected and what the alternatives are:
• The St. Paul School District, which feeds so many students in school, arranged to deliver ten meals per child (breakfasts and lunches) at their regular school bus stops.
• Neighborhood House had to close the Sibley Food Shelf. Information about alternatives has been circulated. The newly opened Aldi’s in Sibley Plaza is a vital resource.
• Neighborhood House also has food bags for pickup, and anyone wanting to make food donations is directed to them: Neighborhood House, 179 Robie St E., St Paul, 651- 789-2500.
• The Sibley Manor staff has closed their office for visits, and continues to work by phone and email checking on residents, arranging for the suspension of City inspections and pest control to reduce unwanted contact.
• Notices in each building have also covered help for people wo have been laid off their jobs: (1) State of Minnesota Unemployment — 651-296-3644; (2) Ramsey County Emergency Assistance — 651-266-4444. 
• Sibley management is also working on a way to deal with late fees during the next few months.
These small, simple steps represent the best of community action and would serve  as a model at any level of government:
• Think about what people need that’s within your area of responsibility;
• Provide as much clear, correct information as possible and keep it current;
• Keep in touch with people;
• Keep caring.

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