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Hotels should opt to house the homeless during the pandemic

Hotels should opt to house the homeless during the pandemic

Hotels should opt to house the homeless during the pandemic
April 30
07:00 2020

As COVID-19 continues to invade the entire world, more than three million people have been infected globally and more than 200,000 have died. The United States of America is leading in the number of cases by country with a million confirmed cases and more than 56,000 dead.

In attempts to minimize the spread of the deadly virus, leaders worldwide have implemented temporary stay-at-home orders. This practice of social distancing has been proven to decrease the rate at which the virus is spreading. While much of the public is at home, medical professionals are risking their lives by fighting the disease at the front lines. As a result of their hard work, the world continues to display showcases of gratitude to these men and women. Celebrities and everyday people have taken into their hands to make donations to COVID-19 relief. Following suit of this trend, major hotels around the world have lit up their vacant rooms to create massive hearts to show their support for healthcare workers. While the gesture comes from a place of gratitude, this is a very tone-deaf way of showing it.

California is the epicenter for America’s homelessness crisis where more than 150,000 people are either homeless or living in tent encampments, under bridges or in shelters. In Las Vegas, the casinos are empty and so are many of the hotels. The sin city has about 35,000 residents without permanent housing. When faced with the coronavirus, Las Vegas officials in Clark County chose to house their homeless in an outdoor parking lot. About 50 volunteers spread out 24,000 feet of carpet for the homeless to use as sleeping mats and medical students were tasked to monitor them in an attempt to prevent contraction, according to The New York Times.

These two cities were among the cities where hotels such as the Intercontinental San Francisco hotel, Aria-Hotel, MGM Grand hotel, Embassy Suites, and Marriott hotels lit up empty rooms in the shape of hearts.

While the rest of Americans have the luxury of staying indoors, the homeless are left extremely vulnerable. It is incredibly difficult for the homeless to practice social distancing, therefore COVID-19 is a true nightmare for them to face. Healthcare is already almost impossible for them to meet which puts them at a higher risk. Although many homeless shelters have taken the initiative to house those without protection, many are taking in more than they can cater to, resulting in shelters overflowing. This has left some to feel as though they must stay in the streets or in tent encampments. “We safer out here than in a shelter,” Ayman Ahmed, a displaced man living in a tent encampment told The Christian Science Monitor.

COVID-19 has hindered many businesses and since travel has come to a halt, the hotel industry has suffered. As a result, around 80 percent of hotel rooms in America are currently vacant, according to a report by USA Today. With this many rooms empty, I can’t begin to imagine why hotel owners thought it was a good idea to light up those rooms in solidarity with healthcare workers when many homeless people are still on the streets in the middle of a global pandemic. Since they are practically advertising their emptiness, why not house the millions of homeless Americans who have nowhere to go during this pandemic?

Housing all of America’s homeless into hotels will do more for the countless healthcare workers that continue to risk their livelihoods battling COVID-19. By doing so, it will maintain displaced individuals from the streets and parking lots where they are open to infection as well as release the stress of homeless shelters across the nation.

This temporary fix will not completely eradicate the nation’s inherent problem with homelessness though. However, this is what hotel companies should be doing with their vacant rooms instead of wasting electricity.

Featured Illustration: Jae-Eun Suh

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Michelle Monari

Michelle Monari

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