Wait list for virus protective housing ‘extensive’ as Austin considers fifth hotel

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin is considering a fifth hotel for protective housing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Those especially vulnerable to COVID-19 currently stay at four hotels, often referred to as “pro lodges.”

Many include those experiencing homelessness in Austin.

Members of the population who are older or immune compromised get first priority. The recommendation can come from a shelter or outreach worker.

“We’ve trained all of the outreach providers in our community on who they may encounter either in an encampment or other settings, to be able to refer those high risk individuals onto a waiting list at this point,” said Kate Moore, Vice President Of Strategic Planning at the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, or ECHO.

Moore called the wait list “extensive.”

The city’s efforts to secure hotels quickly reflect concerns that the pandemic will exacerbate the homelessness problem.

Moore says ECHO is working with consultants to figure out how to target people who are the most at-risk of becoming homeless due to losing a job.

“We do know and anticipate it to happen, so we’re definitely working on the modelling of what the impact could be,” she said.

Back in March, we reported that hundreds of people already experiencing homelessness were going to lose access to basic needs, as shelter leaders made tough decisions that limited visitors to the facilities.

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