Housing the homeless with COVID-19

The City of Tucson pays for hotel with federal funds
Posted at 5:04 PM, Jul 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 11:26:47-04

TUCSON, — As the number of coronavirus cases go up so does the need to keep cases at bay. The City of Tucson set up a plan to house the homeless population in hotels who test positive for COVID-19.

Liz Morales with the city’s housing and development division says contracts with 3 local hotels to house the homeless with COVID-19 started back in March. The hotels are paid for with money from HUD along with 2 million dollars from the Federal Cares Act. The goal is to keep the virus from spreading at local shelters and community spread.

“The CDC recommended to deconcentrate those congregate shelters, the hotels have been wonderful," Morales

Workers and volunteers hand out PPE and El Rio Health does testing and provides telehealth services. The final plan is to transition clients into permanent housing and jobs after recovering from the virus. Clients also receive 3 meals a day and referrals for the hotels come from shelters, outreach workers and police.

"Old Pueblo Community Services, Community Bridges is operating the hotels as shelter providers and Primavera and Catholic Community Services is assisting with case management," Morales said.

At this point the city is covering 365 rooms and 390 people are currently checked in. Since the program started about 500 people have participated and 80 were transitioned into permanent housing. The average stay at the hotels is about 30 days and the program will also stay in place until the pandemic is over.

“We do have some couples and some families but they are smaller numbers compared to the single individuals that we are working with. We're going to keep doing this until we see those numbers decrease and having some viable options for people," Morales said.

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