Canadian Government Buys Hotels to House Homeless People—And Also Rehire Workers

The British Columbian government has managed to provide housing for more than 200 homeless Canadians while simultaneously bringing economic support to struggling hotels during the COVID-19 crisis.

This week, provincial legislators purchased the Comfort Inn Hotel in Victoria for $18.5 million as a means of sheltering homeless people living in street encampments amidst the pandemic.

In addition to the hotel being equipped with 65 rooms for temporary accommodations, the province is also rehiring laid-off hotel workers to help manage the facility

“Often people experiencing homelessness are not able to access the support and services they need,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The purchase of the Comfort Inn, combined with medical and social supports, will help people make the transition from the street to permanent housing.”

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This is not the first facility that the province has purchased to accommodate homeless people. In the city of Prince Rupert, the province purchased the former Raffles Inn motel in order to convert it it into a permanent supportive housing building with up to 48 units, each with private washrooms, showers and mini kitchens. Once complete, the building will have the capacity for a 35-space temporary shelter or an extreme weather response shelter by 2021.

Both of these purchases are part of a province-wide mission to build roughly 3,300 new affordable housing units for seniors, Indigenous people, low-income families, women and children escaping abuse, students, and people experiencing—or at risk of—homelessness.

According to the BC Housing Twitter page, 289 rough sleepers have already been moved into temporary housing for the duration of the pandemic.

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“This is a substantial investment in our community and will provide housing for those who need it most,” says Lisa Helps, mayor of the city of Victoria. “This site has significant redevelopment potential to provide a range of affordable housing in the long term. I look forward to working with the community and with BC Housing to determine the long-term use of this site.”

People will have access to services such as meals, health-care services, addictions treatment and harm reduction, storage for personal belongings and other supports, including 24/7 staffing to provide security to residents of the building and the surrounding neighborhood.

Need more positive stories and updates coming out of the COVID-19 challenge? For more uplifting coverage, click here.

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Homeless People From California to France Are Being Given Emergency Shelter During COVID-19 Response

As homeowners around the world are being ordered into self-isolation amidst the COVID-19 outbreaks, legislators are making sure that society’s most vulnerable people are offered the same protection.

Homeless people across North America and Europe are being offered shelter in everything from unused hotel rooms to designated self-isolation centers.

In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan booked 300 hotel rooms at a discounted rate to house the city’s rough sleepers for the next 12 weeks. The mayor’s legislative team plans to continue working with the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) to facilitate additional discount booking should the crisis develop further during the coming months.

“The coronavirus outbreak affects everyone in London and we must do all we can to safeguard everyone’s health—not least those Londoners who face spending each night sleeping rough on the capital’s streets,” said Khan in a statement. “Rough sleepers already face difficult and uncertain lives and I’m determined to do all I can to ensure they, along with all Londoners, are given the best protection possible.”

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This is just one of the many initiatives that the UK government is implementing to get homeless people off the streets during the novel coronavirus outbreaks. According to The Guardian, legislators are currently working to house rough sleepers in unused hotel rooms and other self-isolated commercial spaces. Not only is the space readily available, research also says that housing the homeless in hotel rooms is less costly than hospital space.

Similar measures have been implemented in California as well. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s legislative team has reportedly secured roughly 4,000 hotel rooms statewide with the hopes that the initiative could help lead to permanent housing after the COVID-19 crisis has been contained.

“This is an opportunity to bring folks indoors, and then try to get them into permanent housing when this is said and done,” said Ali Sutton, state deputy secretary for homelessness, in an interview with CapRadio.

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The state has reportedly allocated more than $150 million to local governments working to house the homeless during the outbreaks with another $50 million being distributed for renting travel trailers and hotel rooms as emergency shelter.

A KUOW report from earlier this month outlined similar initiatives taking place in Seattle as well.

Back in Europe, the Paris government has reportedly opened two separate isolation centers for homeless people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus—but do not require hospitalization— as the city enters into lockdown. Another 80 sites have been designated as confirmed isolation spaces across the country with another 2,800 facilities identified as potential additions to the nationwide housing network.

This is just one of many positive stories and updates that are coming out of the COVID-19 news coverage this week. For more uplifting coverage on the outbreaks, click here.

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