‘Hotels with Heart’ to protect rough sleepers from COVID-19

COVID-19 has devastated normal life but at least most of us can feel safe and secure when bunkered down in our own homes but imagine if you were homeless and one of the forgotten members of society?

However, Western Australia has not forgotten its most vulnerable and in a trial initiative, WA hotels will be welcoming rough sleepers to stay.

This week, the McGowan Government announced that it is protecting some of the most vulnerable members of the Western Australian community from the impacts of COVID-19 by introducing “The Hotels with Heart” initiative.

Due to their circumstances, people experiencing homelessness are often unable to take social distancing measures and self-isolate. Initially “about 20 rough sleepers are being moved into Perth’s Pan Pacific hotel to reduce the health risks for people experiencing homelessness during this difficult period”.

“The initiative aims to deliver both health outcomes for the community and economic stimulus to the hotel sector and will focus on rapidly housing rough sleepers who are most at risk, to keep them safe and out of hospital.

“If the trial is successful, the new service model could be scaled up to support and ensure the safety of people experiencing homelessness, family and domestic violence and mental health issues. The pilot was developed by a taskforce made up of government and non-government representatives, who have been looking at the immediate risks faced by people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

“It is being delivered in partnership with community service organisations that have significant experience with delivering services to the homeless. These organisations have partnered with health professionals who specialise in treating people who are homeless, and have sought advice on how best to prevent, protect and care for the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic”.

WA Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said: “The State Government recognises that there are a number of cohorts in our community that are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

“The Hotels with Heart pilot learns from similar initiatives happening interstate and around the world, including in the United Kingdom, America and Canada.”

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