COMMUNITIES RALLY TO PROVIDE HOUSING FOR FRONTLINE HEALTHCARE WORKERS
Across the country, a grassroots movement to find healthcare workers short-term accommodations to keep their families safe during the Covid-19 crisis has turned into a major project.
In a matter of weeks, a website that began in Victoria, BC to send listings of available low-cost, short-term furnished accommodations to healthcare workers has spread to Vancouver, Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, and other cities coming soon across Canada – and even to the United States.
The project started when a nurse at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria made a plea on social media for a low-cost suite to be made available for herself and a colleague. People who work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities across Canada are in the difficult position of putting their families at risk when they go home after shifts working with potential Covid-19 patients. These workers are attempting to find secondary housing but cannot afford market rates on a second suite or house with a kitchen and access to laundry facilities on top of their existing mortgage and rent.
Sohail Mansoor, a Toronto Realtor, similarly took to social media to offer his basement suite to any healthcare worker who needed a place to stay. From there, a friend informed him of a similar initiative already in the works in BC headed by Heather Conquergood (Victoria, BC), Ryan Stanley (Ottawa, ON) and Lisa Allyn (Vancouver, BC). Within a matter of days, Sohail’s team had a website live and had already started receiving requests for accommodations. Within the next couple weeks, the Toronto team partnered up with the original organizers from BC, and the national initiative was born. The greater organization is backed by a key team of volunteers that have skills in database management, web development, communications, and outreach. The project runs entirely on donated volunteer time and a desire to make this situation better.
The website www.healthworkerhousing.ca provides a one-stop landing page for Canada, where front-line workers including janitorial staff, care aids, nurses, social workers, doctors, hospital porters and respiratory therapists are connected with property owners who are offering to support them with furnished, empty suites. The site is open to all types of properties, including houses, apartments, camper-trailers, hotels and motels. Some accommodations are offered for no cost and some are requesting a nominal amount to help defray the cost of utilities or condo fees. The project calls on property owners to do as much as they can to lower costs as a humanitarian effort.
The Healthcare Workers Housing team and all the property owners who have offered to help are sending a clear message to healthcare workers: We’re all in this together.