BILLINGS - A group affected by changing protocols but often less equipped with resources is the homeless community.
St. Vincent De Paul is asking the Billings community for help in providing masks.
"Governor Bullock announced that everybody's got to wear masks, in most scenarios, and so at St. Vincent De Paul we're trying to keep COVID out of the population of the homeless folks, and so we think it's a good idea and we're trying to get all the homeless equipped with their own masks, their own P.P.E.," St. Vincent De Paul Executive Director Craig Barthel said.
Issues such as hygiene being especially important in the COVID-19 world pose a new challenge for the homeless.
"Many businesses closed up where they used to get showers have closed down, so we're looking for a facility that would be able to house a showering facility close by where we can encourage people to go get a shower and even facilitate that," Barthel said.
And the number of people needing assistance is rising.
"We're concerned about feeding and the numbers we're going to see, fair number of meals, around 7,000 a month," Barthel said.
They have moved the meal time outdoors, and also adjusted to serving meals three times a day, seven days a week.
"We've been seven days all the way through COVID.The main thing is that the homeless get fed and they get fed well," Barthel said.
Often times this community sticks together.
"They know that they're going to have a less of a chance of getting beat up, or raped if they're with a group of people rather than by themselves," Barthel said, "And there's safety in numbers and that's definitely true in the homeless population."
"Plus, if I have to run to the bathroom, you can watch my stuff. So many of them don't have their IDs, their social security card," Barthel said.
He says this is a vicious cycle, as most times those pieces of identification are required for most assistance.
"So for us it's really about having enough masks on hand that we could outfit them numerous times in a day so that they're masked up, and kept safe," Barthel said.
All of St. Vincent DePaul's social services are still available.
Their thrift store, however, is temporarily closed due to restrictions, furthering the need for donations of masks and money.
Visit https://www.svdpmt.org/ for assistance, or more information.