Local coalition helps coordinate alternative housing for healthcare workers fighting COVID-19

Apr 14, 2020

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KGUN9, Veronica Acosta — A new coalition is helping coordinate alternative housing for healthcare workers fighting COVID-19.

HCW Hosted was started by members of the University of Arizona community and is meant to help find housing for healthcare workers who don’t feel comfortable or can’t go home to their families because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The housing that is being offered and that we’re trying to place is for people that may not be symptomatic at all, they may not be sick. They are concerned that they are bringing this disease to their families or people who might be midget sick but this is not for people who might be very sick because those people would be taken care of in a hospital,” said Mark Nichter, a professor at the University of Arizona.

HCW HOSTED worked alongside other community organizations, like Visit Tucson, to identify different places where these healthcare workers can stay, like hotels.

“We called every hotel that we could find and asked them what they were available for, whether they were close to a hospital, the capacity they had,” said Dan Gibson, who works with Visit Tucson.

They were able to identify about 40 hotels throughout southern Arizona that offer reduced rates for these healthcare workers.

Although HCW HOSTED is helping coordinate alternative housing for healthcare workers, the coalition is also offering mental health support for those who choose to sign up.

Another company helping healthcare workers on the front lines against COVID-19 is Airbnb.

The company is also helping healthcare workers who don’t want to risk spreading the virus to their family find alternative housing.

“Knowing that they can go somewhere at the end of a very long shift, a very hard shift and have a safe, clean, nice place to stay and try to get some sleep and not be on the road driving and not be exhausted. That’s what our host community is offering and what we’re helping to offer,” said Laura Spanjian, the senior public policy director for Airbnb.

So far, over 140,000 hosts throughout the world have offered their homes at either a reduced rate or free for healthcare workers who need it.

In Arizona, about 1,500 hosts have offered their homes.

Spanjian said the company only started offering this option last week, and they hope to be able to extend this to as many who need it.

“This is a way to help those who are on the front lines that are doing some of the hardest work,” she said.