COVID-19 hotel resident
William Morris walks in Old Town where he is staying at a county-run COVID-19 shelter. inewsource photo

Guests of a COVID-19 hotel shelter will have to leave a month sooner than expected, potentially bringing an end to San Diego County’s troubled pandemic program that was designed to protect people with nowhere to go.

County spokesperson Michael Workman has confirmed that the owner of an Old Town hotel, which has been used for more than a year to shelter people with underlying medical conditions, gave 30 days’ notice to terminate a contract with the county at the end of May. 

That means if the remaining 34 guests don’t find a place to live within the next few weeks, they may be sent to a homeless shelter, Workman said. Attempts to reach the owner of the hotel were unsuccessful.

The county’s hotel sheltering program is supposed to run through the end of June — thanks to an extension of federal funding. Workman said officials are looking for other options to continue the program, but “finding willing hotels as we approach summer is a challenge.”

Because this was unexpected, Workman said, officials still don’t know when guests will need to leave. But that’s a crucial piece of information, and without it, guests like Bill Beem and his wife, Shera, are left worrying about gaps in housing. 

“Me and my wife are waiting (for a Section 8 apartment) just to be inspected, and that’s it,” he said, adding that it likely won’t be ready until June. 

Costing at least $5.2 million a month, the hotel program is the first of its kind and has been praised for its success in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives. But inewsource reporting since the program began in March 2020 has revealed mismanagement, neglect and harassment of guests staying at the hotels.

Read the full article on inewsource.org.

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