Q: Are the Men in Blue still working? If so, what precautions are they taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
A: Our crews are still fulfilling the commitments made to various neighborhoods for litter cleanup. They are functioning under a new enhanced sanitary regimen based on the guidance and recommendations of the CDC and state and city authorities.
The regimen includes additional cleaning and disinfecting of vans, surfaces, and other equipment, as well as enhanced personal hygiene as suggested by health experts. Additionally, our staff are monitoring all trainees for any flu-like symptoms and following the protocol set down by the City Health Department and the DHS.
Q: How many people are on our cleaning crews?
A: There are about 150 Men in Blue currently working in our cleaning crews.
Q: Why are they still working?
A: Paid work is the foundation of our reentry program, and a crucial part of their reintegration to society as well as to their personal rehabilitation. Work is the cornerstone that reinforces everything we do and everything these men hope to achieve. It is the reason these men joined the program. And as our Ready, Willing & Able program has proven for over 30 years, work works.
Our cleaning crews are considered essential workers, as the sanitization services rendered are still needed by the neighborhoods they serve.
Q: What safety precautions are the Men in Blue taking?
A: The Men in Blue maintain social distancing while on their routes, and wear protective masks and gloves. They disinfect their vans and cleaning equipment before leaving our residences to begin their routes each morning, as well as during the day along the routes.
Q: Ready, Willing & Able trainees live in a group setting. How many people live in a room together? Is this changing?
A: We have transferred over 300 men — 50% of the population in each of our three transitional residences — to The Bentley Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where each lives in his own private room. This is a wise use of underutilized NYC hotel rooms and an important demonstration of how the City, nonprofits, and businesses can seamlessly collaborate to proactively protect vulnerable populations.
The Doe Fund is working with the East Side Neighborhood Association, the 19th precinct, nearby hospitals, and other community groups to ensure a smooth neighborhood integration.
Q: Does The Doe Fund offer sick leave and/or paid sick leave to its employees? Do trainees get sick leave and/or paid sick leave?
Employees do get paid sick days. Trainees are voluntary and are paid a stipend for working. They do get some personal days and sick days, and they are covered by disability
If a trainee does not want to go out, he can choose not to. If a trainee thinks he is ill, we follow the protocol sent us by DHS. We are also staggering the cafeteria schedule at our facilities in order to create the social distancing suggested in these protocols. We have identified isolation rooms in each facility, and we have adjusted our class size downward; large classes that can’t be limited have been postponed.
Q: How much is the stipend for working?
$15 per hour.
Q: Has anyone in facilities operated by The Doe Fund been contracted COVID-19?
A: Thanks to our rigorous safety precautions, there has been a remarkably low rate of infection at our residences. We have had 24 positive cases total, of which 18 have resolved and returned to work, and zero fatalities.
Q: Are all the Men in Blue in our street cleaning crews “trainees”?
A: Most are trainees. There are some employees of The Doe Fund supervising. All are men in the Ready, Willing & Able program.
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