COVID-19

Life in a hotel turned homeless shelter

Amy Scott and Bennett Purser May 25, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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A California hotel room houses a tenant through Project Roomkey. Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Life in a hotel turned homeless shelter

Amy Scott and Bennett Purser May 25, 2020
A California hotel room houses a tenant through Project Roomkey. Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

A California initiative called Project Roomkey planned to rent 15,000 hotel rooms to house homeless residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. New state records show that nearly half of the rooms are still empty since the project launched in early April.

Kara Carnahan is the director of programs for Abode Services, a nonprofit agency that works to provide housing for the homeless in the San Francisco Bay Area. The agency has placed nearly 400 people in hotel shelters since the COVID-19 crisis began. She now spends her days managing the services in a Radisson hotel near the Oakland airport.

Carnahan spoke with Marketplace’s Amy Scott back in April, when the project was just getting started. They spoke again for an update and talked about what life has been like inside the hotel.

Employees of Abode Services in the Radisson hotel in Oakland, California.

“The lobby is where a lot of our action happens. It’s where people get meals, meet with their case managers,” Carnahan said. “It’s where we have shelter monitors that can provide them with clothing, hygiene supplies, dog food. We have about 50 pets here.”

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

New COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are on the rise. How are Americans reacting?

Johns Hopkins University reports the seven-day average of new cases hit 68,767 on Sunday  — a record — eclipsing the previous record hit in late July during the second, summer wave of infection. A funny thing is happening with consumers though: Even as COVID-19 cases rise, Americans don’t appear to be shying away from stepping indoors to shop or eat or exercise. Morning Consult asked consumers how comfortable they feel going out to eat, to the shopping mall or on a vacation. And their willingness has been rising. Surveys find consumers’ attitudes vary by age and income, and by political affiliation, said Chris Jackson, who heads up polling at Ipsos.

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

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