Steinberg Hart President & CEO David Hart recently talked with Les Shaver of Globe St. about the impacts of COVID-19 on shelter and housing, particularly of the homeless population, and proposed one way the hospitality industry can work to fight this crisis, while in turn solving some problems of their own.
New proactive, protective measures have already been instituted in some cities and states around the country as a response to the COVID-19 viral pandemic. Los Angeles County is moving to lease 15,000 local hotel rooms to provide the homeless population with temporary housing. According to Hart, “this is a proactive approach to move people into rooms to keep them from being susceptible to COVID-19 out on the streets.”
In Hart’s opinion, signing temporary leases of hotel rooms to the government can be a “win-win” situation that addresses a great need for housing for the homeless and provides the struggling hospitality sector with a financial “bail out” of sorts. According to Hart, however, this may not just be a strategy for a short-term fix — it could have a lasting, long-term impact on California’s affordable housing crisis. According to Hart, the hotel industry is “being clobbered right now,” as many hotels are being severely impacted by huge drops in room occupancy.
“On average, in California, it costs $500,000 a door. . . That is crazy for a one-bedroom apartment, or an efficiency unit,” the Steinberg Hart CEO explains. Hart sees possibilities in this idea of converting existing hotels into adapted housing to address California’s persistent affordable housing issues.
“Instead of building new, we’re buying existing assets and converting their use. . . This idea helps bail out a sector that is suffering significantly. It’s not just helping the property owner. It is also helping all of the people who are unemployed in this sector,” concludes Hart.
Read more: One Theory to Fight Homelessness…