LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The Lancaster County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities and the Lancaster County Homeless Coalition/Lanc Co MyHome are requesting proposals from hotels willing to serve as shelters for those experiencing homelessness related to COVID-19.
Several factors influenced their decision to seek additional shelter space. One is that existing shelters have limited capacity due to COVID-19 precautions. Another is the looming end of the federal eviction moratorium.
“Right now we have the capacity at the emergency shelters, but should it get to the place where we have the eviction moratorium coming off, and people trying to get into shelter, and the colder weather…the combination of that was really something that we wanted to respond to,” says Jen Koppel, director of Lanc Co MyHome.
Justin Eby, deputy executive director of the LCHRA, says that the organizations wanted to work with hotels because they already have the facilities in place to accommodate those seeking shelter. They have individual rooms (especially helpful for social distancing) and amenities.
Koppel notes that the arrangement can also benefit hotels, which have had fewer guests as COVID-19 concerns reduced travel. “Not only can we temporarily house individuals and families, but then also the hotels can receive some income,” says Eby.
An Emergency Solutions Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides the funding for this initiative.
The deadline for hotels to submit proposals is noon on Friday, Jan. 15. All hotels in Lancaster County are invited to submit proposals, but preference will be given to hotels in East Lampeter Township, where the municipality has increased the typical 30-day limit on hotel stays, explains Eby.
“This just allows us to be able to house people for a longer time and not have to actually move them out because of zoning laws,” says Eby. The organizations are hoping the hotels will serve as shelters for at least four to six months.
Those in need of shelter can call 2-1-1 for assistance.
The request for proposals, along with instructions for submitting a proposal, can be found here.