AURORA, Colo. — Hotels and motels are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. Many are nearly empty most nights.
However, that does present opportunities for cities that are now confronting challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The city of Aurora is planning to rent out an entire hotel to house homeless coronavirus patients recovering from their illnesses, or homeless who need to be quarantined because of possible exposure to COVID-19.
So far, three hotel chains have approached the city of Aurora about leasing their properties. The city is not yet publicly saying which hotel chain they plan to lease a hotel from, but say they hope to complete the deal by Monday, March 30.
“University Hospital is ready to discharge some folks, so we need to get going,” explained Shelley McKittrick, Aurora’s homelessness director.
Six or seven coronavirus patients are set to move in Tuesday. The hotel has 122 rooms and is owned by a chain with multiple properties in the area.
“So they could move people out of one, empty it out, and lease the entire building to us,” explained McKittrick. “I think this is happening all across the country. Some municipalities are actually buying hotels because they can be converted into permanent housing afterwards.”
Aurora has no plans to purchase a hotel, viewing this as a temporary fix to a temporary problem. However, the city is prepared to lease the property for as long as needed.
“We’re opening this for the homeless community, but we’re willing to share this resource because we all need to pull together right now,” said McKittrick.
She anticipates medical workers and first responders could also stay at the hotel as well as anyone with no place to safely quarantine.
The price tag is still unknown, but McKittrick insists it’s being leased at a deep discount.
“It helps them stay afloat at this time, but I don’t think anyone’s going to get rich off of this,” she said.
The city of Aurora also hopes to have a housing hotline set up by some time next week for people needing a place to quarantine or recover.
One thing still desperately needed is personal protective equipment for people who will work at the hotel.