The number of homeless being housed in Roanoke hotels triples since start of COVID-19 outbreak


ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — A total of 90 homeless or displaced individuals in Roanoke have been taken off the street and placed in hotels temporarily to allow them to “shelter in place” safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The effort is mostly being funded through the CARES Act. Homeless shelters like ARCH Roanoke, RAM House, Rescue Mission, Trust House, and support initiatives in the area partnered with the health department to formulate a contingency plan in case a homeless individual was to contract COVID-19.

The effort began back in February, with a primary goal of helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Now, $20,100 a week is being spent to deliver on that promise. So far, not one positive case has been reported to the ARCH or the Trust House, which Executive Director Jeanne McCormack says she cannot explain.

“I would like to say it’s because we have been placing people in hotel rooms, providing masks.”

In April, when people were placed in the hotels, the 27 people already being served by the Trust House were moved. Now, 90 individuals are being housed and monitored almost 24/7. In addition, approximately 20 individuals have been moved from hotels to temporary housing since the effort began.

“Depending on their needs and an assessment that we put together, it can be anywhere from two days to a few months,” said McCormack.

The group is now applying for funding from the third phase of the CARES Act. If granted, that would allow the group to continue housing the homeless in hotels through April 2021.

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