Holmes Student Center Added As Alternative Housing Site During COVID-19 Response

Apr 3, 2020

Northern Illinois University's Holmes Student Center will serve as a primary alternative housing site. According to a release from the DeKalb County Health Department, initial experience with COVID-19 infections in Illinois demonstrated a need to provide alternative housing for those who are awaiting test results or have tested positive and do not have another way to appropriately isolate or quarantine (i.e. family members or friends who can assist in alternative housing arrangements).   
 
The release says over the past several weeks, the DeKalb County Health Department has been working with the DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency and NIU to establish a local plan for alternative housing.  The plan secures alternative housing for individuals who are not able to isolate/quarantine in their own home.   
 
The directive to develop the Alternative Housing Plan came from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to the DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency. DeKalb County Health Department is the lead agency responsible for coordination and implementation of the DeKalb County plan.   
 
The plan identifies the NIU Holmes Student Center Hotel as the primary alternative housing site and outlines provisions for registration of patients and meeting the healthcare, nutrition, transportation, social and personal needs of individual patients during the time of isolation or quarantine.  

Additionally, NIU President Lisa Freeman sent an email to the campus community on Friday afternoon:

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

As individuals, we all have a responsibility to do our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and literally help save lives. As a university, we also want to do our part to serve the needs of our broader community during this public health crisis.

The DeKalb County Health Department (DCHD) has asked NIU to serve as the primary alternative housing site for individuals unable to quarantine or isolate in their own homes after being tested for or diagnosed with COVID-19. We are proud to help, and have committed the use of our Holmes Student Center (HSC) hotel, which has been closed during this time.

The need for each Illinois county to identify alternative housing comes as a directive from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. DCHD will solely oversee all aspects and assume costs related to registration of patients and meeting the health care, nutrition, transportation, social and personal needs of individuals during the time of isolation or quarantine. This also includes the proper cleaning of the spaces used.

I want to assure you that our own emergency operations team has worked closely with DCHD to ensure the safety and well-being of not only patients but also of the few NIU employees who will have access to the HSC during this time.

I want to acknowledge and express my gratitude for the incredible work being done by the staff and leaders of the DCHD for our community. Their expertise has been invaluable, and their commitment to all of us is reassuring in this period of uncertainty.

We’re in this together and stronger for it.

Lisa C. Freeman

President