To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the State has a two-pronged approach - looking at 1) health care surge capacity needs, including space for persons positive for or exposed to COVID-19 that do not require hospitalization; and 2) based on experience in other places, needing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through other high-risk populations, particularly persons experiencing homeless, many of whom are elderly or at-risk due to underlying health conditions. The most immediate need has been identified as getting people experiencing homelessness into housing that provides social distancing. Both of these efforts are tied to state and federal funding associated with the COVID-19 response.
The CA program which was initially centralized at the state level is now operating on what is being referred to as a “Locals First” program. While this is excellent from the perspective of identifying hotels based on location and needs locally, as you can imagine, the 58 counties in California are now all doing their own outreach. This has led to inconsistent approaches which are creating significant confusion in for the California hotel industry. Additionally, some cities are also involved (such as Los Angeles and Sacramento).
In repeated assurances from the state, no hotels will be commandeered and hotel and lodging properties are under no obligation to participate in these efforts.
State and local guidance, directives, and funding continue to flow to counties. Lists of potential properties were issued to counties on March 18 at 2pm and there was a follow-up conference call with the state and counties later that evening at 5pm, and with major cities shortly thereafter.
Clearly, this is unprecedented. To the extent our members can help local government meet these needs, please consider doing so when contacted by a county, city, or the State. They are willing to lease whole properties, separate buildings within a property, and in some cases may ask for blocks of rooms for certain populations described above. Again, there is no obligation to participate. Also, there are certainly political considerations, especially with demands to utilize closed properties.
CHLA has done our best to facilitate this constantly and rapidly evolving process and will continue these efforts. Please Note: CHLA has no control over the process and has limited real-time information about the specific needs of each county.
To the extent outreach is occurring, the State strongly encourages prioritizing individuals 65 and older.
Counties and their local partners are expected pay for the lease and wraparound services (operations, feeding, sanitation, janitorial, etc.). This is an eligible use of HEAP or HHAP funding for persons experiencing homelessness.
These space capacity needs may be related to any of the following populations:
- Persons tested positive for COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization but need isolation;
- Persons exposed or potentially exposed to COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization;
- Persons needing social distancing as a precautionary measure, particularly for high-risk groups such as people over 65 or with certain underlying health conditions (respiratory, compromised immunities, chronic diseases; and
- Unsheltered populations, which may or may not include any of the categories above.
If you are interested in volunteering, please email your property name, address, and total room numbers to DepartmentOperationsCenter@dss.ca.gov.
The county – if they need your property – will contact you directly.
- A list of wraparound services to help think through what is necessary / should be considered to operate these facilities.
- An isolation protocol checklist based on CDC guidance, should it be needed to assess hotel suitability for Populations 1 and 2 above.
- Guidance on operations for Population 4 above.
- A draft of the leasing template developed by the State Department of General Services. This template is NOT mandated for use, yet may be useful for legal teams.
The State is inventorying travel trailers and mobile home units too. As they become available, they can be distributed to counties through the request process immediately below. Over 250 already are available.
If a county requests State assistance with this effort and negotiating with hotel property owners or for wraparound services, they will be notifying the CA Dept. of Social Services.
All government entities taking actions to protect public health and safety submit a request for Public Assistance to CalOES (Office of Emergency Services) to secure reimbursement from FEMA consistent with the President’s emergency declaration. This funding provides a 75 percent federal reimbursement. Private non-profits taking actions at the direction of local or tribal governments should keep a detailed accounting of COVID-19 related costs to submit back to that government agency for reimbursement.
If counties are unable to fund leases and/or services, please do not let that deter you from following the request procedures outlined above.
If you are a branded property, please check with your brand for any contractual issues of allowing your property to be utilized for this purpose.
For those Management Companies who also own hotels, AHLA has been contacted by the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), as they are seeking hoteliers who are willing to enter into temporary leases for certain types of lodging properties at this time due to the increasing need for recovery options because of COVID-19. California, New Jersey and Texas are just a few of the state jurisdictions actively seeking hotels for use as first responder and medical professional housing, emergency hospitals, and quarantine sites but more states are likely on the horizon.
That said, AHLA is currently working with the DHHS to create a national database of willing properties in order to meet the demand for housing capacity during this pandemic to create a more efficient flow of information among willing parties.
AHLA is also working to create a lease template that can be used between the government and the property to, again, allow for efficiencies for both the DHHS and the hotelier. The template lease arrangement would include several key provisions, such as: total property leasing, protecting hotel associates’ safety through limited or no staffing, broad indemnification, and repairing and sanitizing properties at the completion of such leases.
If you are interested in leasing your properties to the government, please fill out the following online form: https://forms.gle/PfQfqkHMPbF5KMGi6
It is the DHHS’s preference to lease properties that are in relatively close proximity to hospitals but at this point we are collecting the names of all properties in all states who are interested, regardless of distance to hospitals.