Hundreds of hotel rooms will open to help house the homeless in Toronto in an effort to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
The move comes shortly after a homeless man died from the virus according to the Montreal Gazette.
On Monday, City of Toronto officials confirmed that four homeless people and a shelter employee had tested positive for COVID-19.
According to Mary-Anne Bédard, Toronto has signed agreements to secure 300 hotel rooms for the purpose of housing the city’s homeless population. The city is also currently in the process of acquiring 500 additional rooms.
The hotel rooms were acquired with the purpose of giving people space to social distance, a practice that is difficult at crowded shelters.
Along with providing new housing accommodations to the city’s homeless population, Toronto has also installed hand-washing stations and public washrooms.
According to Toronto Mayor John Tory, the city is also considering opening up some of these sites as a permanent housing option.
“We’re trying to see if some of those vacant sites could be converted into permanent housing to help with our affordable housing shortage, once this crisis is passed,” said Tory.
This is not the first time that hotels were converted into temporary housing.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, hotels were exclusively afforded to illegal border crossers who settled in the city.
Asylum claimants were given free housing at the expense of taxpayers after homeless shelters began to struggle with capacity issues due to the influx of illegal border crossers.
At the time, the city’s homeless population was not offered the same luxury.
As exclusively reported by True North, illegal border crossers were staying in the city’s shelter system for six months in order to take advantage of a taxpayer-subsidized housing allowance.
The Toronto Transitional Housing Allowance Program would give eligible claimants up to $5000 per month in order to pay for rent.