Nurses and health care workers are looking for affordable accomodations to prevent getting their families sick. (Black Press Media file photo)

COVID-19: Health care workers seek alternative housing options to prevent families from getting sick

Volunteers, residents and businesses step up to provide frontline workers with alternative housing

Local home owners and businesses are opening their doors to health care workers who don’t want to potentially expose their families to COVID-19 after their shifts.

On March 24, one nurse from the Royal Jubilee Hospital put out a plea for help over Facebook to find discounted accommodations for herself and a coworker. Within 24 hours she received 75 offers, prompting volunteer Heather Conquergood to coordinate a website to connect homeowners and frontline workers.

“It has happened super fast, I think it’s been about 48 hours and in that time we have a whole website up and running and information with a spreadsheet, and we’re connecting with property owners and AirBnB owners who have suites available,” Conquergood said.

ALSO READ: B.C. nurses concerned about staffing amid COVID-19

With tourism coming to a standstill due to border closures and suggested travel restrictions, there should be many short-term rental suites available, Conquergood added.

So far dozens of property owners and health care workers have signed up on the site, which has only been active for a few hours as of March 27.

Health care workers are looking for furnished short-term rental suites with a suggested cap of $500 per month per person.

“Though, we’ve had many people offering their spaces for less,” Conquergood said. “We’re calling on property owners to do what they can to reduce costs. It has to be a compromise between market rent, and what a frontline worker can pay on top of their normal mortgage or rent.”

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria street nurses ask government to help the homeless in COVID-19 crisis

Businesses are also stepping up to help frontline workers, including Accent Inns, which has five locations in the province including one at 3233 Maple St. in Victoria.

“It started when we got a call from a nurse who was on the verge of tears,” said Trina Notman, vice president of sales and marketing at Accent Inns. “She told us that nurses were sleeping in their cars. That just totally shocked and mobilized us.”

The hotel rooms are ideal, she said, since they have outdoor entrances and individual air conditioning units.

While the prices for the rooms fluctuate between the regions, Notman said rates are approximately less than half of what a usual night would cost. About 120 rooms were booked as of Thursday morning.

Parkside Hotel and Spa located at 810 Humboldt St. is also offering essential workers a discounted rate of $70 per night.

Any property owners who are interested in helping health care workers with short term, affordable accommodations can visit yyjlocalsforlocals.com/healthcare.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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