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December 13, 2020

Philadelphia moving homeless residents from COVID-19 prevention spaces to permanent housing

The two locations have had 260 inhabitants since the onset of the public health crisis in March, the city’s Office of Homeless Services said

Housing Coronavirus
philly homeless housing covid-19.jpg Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

The drying up of federal stimulus money is forcing Philly's COVID-19 prevention locations to close at the end of the month, the city's Office of Homeless Services said.

Philly residents experiencing homelessness who have been staying at the city’s temporary coronavirus safety locations will now be required to find long-term housing by the end of the month.

The city’s Office of Homeless Services has begun moving residents out of its COVID-19 prevention spaces to permanent housing locations because federal stimulus money from the CARES Act is set to expire at the end of December, meaning that these places will need to shut down.

Residents are now being offered long-term, affordable housing opportunities, as well as support services, city officials said. 

Each guest is now working with a housing case manager to help them find resources for food, health care and other social service programs.

The city’s housing case managers are also helping residents obtain proper identifications and documentation, as well as possible sources of income.

Roughly 300 new housing opportunities have been set up through single-room occupancies, Philadelphia Housing Authority habitations, housing choice vouchers, and other locally and federally funded subsidy programs, the city said.

Guests are also being provided transportation to their new homes, as well as furniture and TVs at no cost, the city said.

If residents are unable to find permanent habitation before the calendar flips to 2021, the city is offering temporary community-based locations for residential purposes until they figure out their long-term housing arrangements.

Guests at these new temporary locations will cost the city no more than $15,000 per resident, according to Billy Penn. The city is hoping to have all of its COVID-19 prevention space residents in permanent housing by March.

The city’s coronavirus prevention locations have served as places where those experiencing homelessness can safely stay during the ongoing public health crisis.

These temporary locations have been hotel rooms at the Holiday Inn on Walnut St. and the Fairfield Inn at 13th and Spruce streets in Center City. The Holiday Inn has also served as the city’s official quarantine site for those in need of a space to self-isolate.

The short-term living spaces, which opened in March, had been developed specifically for those experiencing homelessness who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 and requiring hospitalization, such as individuals ages 65 and older and those suffering from underlying health conditions.

Along with protecting health-compromised residents experiencing homelessness from contracting the coronavirus in homeless shelters, the program was also instituted to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

Since April, there have been 260 inhabitants at the two hotels. It cost the city $175,000 to house residents at the Holiday Inn and $119,000 for guests at the Fairfield Inn, according to NBC10.

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