South Bend leasing Motel 6 to house homeless COVID-19 patients

NOW: South Bend leasing Motel 6 to house homeless COVID-19 patients

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The city of South Bend is leasing the Motel 6 in Roseland as a place to house the homeless who have COVID-19 and need to be in isolation.

The Board of Public Works approved $270,000 to lease the 82-room motel through the end of June.

Mayor James Mueller said homeless advocates approached him several weeks ago with concerns about keeping the homeless safe from the coronavirus.

“If you’re suspected to have the virus then you can go to this place while you’re waiting to get the results to see if you are positive and then if you do test positive you wait out the self-quarantine,” Mueller said. “We looked at a number of different sites and ultimately trying to find a willing owner that would provide housing options and we found one ultimately up here at the Motel 6."

Finding a place willing to house those potentially infected with COVID-19, Mueller says was difficult. Which is why the city settled on the Motel 6 in Roseland without much hesitation. 

“A lot of our shelters could become a hotspot for infections so being able to separate those who are sick from those who are not, will protect the individuals in the shelters but also help our healthcare facilities not be overwhelmed by the number of cases from the shelters," Mueller said. 

Some Roseland officials are not happy the decision was made to lease the Motel 6 without their knowledge. Roseland Town Council President Elizabeth McCombs says this project will be entirely the city of South Bend's responsibility to police and attend to. 

“My concern is that there was no communication whatsoever, Jeff Rea, Tim Scott, and James Mueller. The city just went ahead and did this move," McCombs said. 

“In the time-sensitive nature of this project I do not believe there was communication with Roseland officials but again this was the willing property owner that stepped up to provide this facility," Mueller said.

Mayor Mueller says the city has plans to properly staff the motel which he estimates will bring the total cost of the project close to half a million dollars. There plans to provide food services, security, and on-call medical professionals at the facility.

It is also possible they will extend the rental period another 30 days depending on the state of the pandemic.

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