Hotels Can Offer Permanent, Affordable Housing Solutions


There has long been talk of transforming empty motels into homeless shelters or affordable housing. Still, as the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on tourism depleted hotels around the world of visitors, the conversation became louder. If these buildings, complete with private rooms with beds and kitchenettes, are sitting there empty, why can’t they be filled with people who need a place to stay?

When the coronavirus was running most rampant, it was beneficial to every community member for everyone — including homeless people — to quarantine themselves as much as possible to prevent the spread. FEMA offered generous reimbursement to hotels that temporarily allowed high-risk people and people infected with the virus to isolate themselves if they didn’t have another place to go.

Too Soon to Pull Plug on Sheltering in Hotels

But as the virus becomes less severe and vaccination rates increase, homeless people taking shelter in hotels have now been sent back to the streets or into the overburdened shelter system. In New York, thousands of homeless people sheltering in place in hotels throughout the pandemic now face a return to congregate shelters, even as rates of homelessness are incredibly high.

It is good that COVID-19 cases are declining enough in the US that we don’t need such intense precautions to prevent community spread anymore. But treating homeless people who have been staying in otherwise-empty hotels throughout the pandemic as an inconvenience begs the question:

Do we only care about our homeless neighbors when we’re worried they’ll infect us with a virus?

Source: Newsletter&utm_campaign=110ebdc5db-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_08_25_08_40_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f0c3d2ef84-110ebdc5db-1341594434