The American Hotel and Lodging Association has launched a program to connect hotel properties with the health community looking for temporary housing while working to fight Covid-19. The initiative, dubbed “Hotels for Hope” and announced in partnership with several state associations, already has identified more than 8,500 U.S. properties, AHLA president and CEO Chip Rogers told BTN, with 2,000 added since Tuesday.
“We started this process and started determining interest over the weekend,” Rogers said. “It came from discussions with the Department of Health and Human Services letting us know that there would be great needs for hotels to be used as either makeshift hospitals or quarantine centers, and could we help them in identifying hotels.”
Rogers added that cities, counties and states previously were reaching out individually to hotel owners in their areas to set up such processes. Then, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 12 signed an executive order allowing the state to commandeer hotels for such purposes.
“Which is not what anyone wants to hear,” Rogers said. “There is so much legal wrangling, and you go to a judge to find out to determine what the taking was worth. We felt if we could create a national database of hoteliers volunteering their hotels and then make this available through our partners at the state level who are working with their local governors, it’s going to be much easier.”
The next step was to come up with an agreed-upon lease that would specify the length of time the local government would need the hotel. “Two weeks? Ninety days? All that makes a difference,” Rogers said. “And what type of employees are needed? What type of condition would the hotel be required to be in when it was handed back to the owner? We started putting that together. We’re continuing to gather the names of the hotels, distributing them to state associations, and then today we are finishing up what is a proposed national lease that can be used by anybody.”
Whether hotels will charge for the stays will depend on a number of factors, such as the property or length of stay, Rogers said. “If a hotel is next to a hospital and they just need 10 rooms, in many cases those will be free,” he said. “But if a state wants an entire hotel for 90 days, then they’ll negotiate a reasonable price.”
Several states are participating, with the most activity in New York and high levels of activity in California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and Texas, Rogers said.
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