DURHAM, NC (WNCN)– Durham County is taking steps to make sure homeless people have a place to stay amid coronavirus outbreaks.
The Durham County Board of Commissioners approved a $1.6 million contract with the Marriott hotel in RTP to house homeless people so they can practice social distancing during this COVID- 19 pandemic.
Since FEMA approved Governor Cooper’s request to use hotels as alternative housing Durham County Board of Commissioners Chair Wendy Jacobs says this contract is eligible to get funding from FEMA and the state.
Whatever they don’t cover, the city and county will have to come up with.
Richard Jones has been staying at the Urban Ministries shelter in downtown Durham for the past three months.
Today, he’s moving into his new temporary home.
“I got two full size beds and I got a tub and a shower it’s awesome”, said Jones.
“We’re transporting 90 passengers from the urban ministries in downtown Durham to the Marriott here “, said Ken Williams, a manager with Go Triangle.
That’s how Jones got here. Go Triangle is transporting everyone staying at Urban Ministries so they can practice social distancing, something that’s nearly impossible to do while staying in a shelter.
“Bottom bunk, top bunk, bottom bunk, but there’s so many people it was kind of tough where you still had less than 6 feet apart. “, said Jones.
CBS 17 visited the Durham Rescue Mission. And while they’re taking precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it’s still a tough task when it comes to spacing in the dorms.
“We do have some dormitory space that is fairly close, that would be a nightmare if it started running through those dorms”, said Durham Rescue Mission COO, Rob Tart.
225 rooms have been reserved within the Marriott hotel in RTP until July 9th.
Jones tells us he had to sign a waiver to move and his room is guaranteed until April 30th, but it is subject to change depending on the health crisis. It could mean changes for Go Triangle too.
“We’re living in trying times right now so as things progress we may have to transport more passengers”, said Williams.
For right now, Jones says he plans on making the most out of his situation and enjoying all the perks of having is own space to stay healthy.
“It’s just like freedom”, said Jones.
Durham County Board of Commissioners Chair Wendy Jacobs says the county is working on another contract with a local hotel to house at -risk people showing COVID-19 symptoms.