BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott is exploring whether the city should purchase hotels to provide short-term and permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness and families in need.

Scott announced Wednesday that the city has posted a Request for Information (RFI) to purchase property that can be turned into housing.

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“Providing high-quality and safe facilities for people and families experiencing homelessness is my top priority, and we are grateful to President Biden for making federal dollars available to that end,” said Scott. “I remain committed to implementing an anti-homelessness strategy that addresses the acute needs that exist now, while simultaneously fostering long-term solutions in partnership with service providers and other stakeholders.”

The goal is to have multiple hotels under ownership and management of the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services to provide safe, high-quality shelter to serve 100 to 130 clients in a single location.

“Providing non-congregate shelter in hotels has helped to mitigate the spread of COVID and is proof of how hotels can transform the shelter system,” said Tisha S. Edwards, Acting Director of the MOHS. “We are also very eager to utilize hotels as a resource to increase the City’s access to housing for our neighbors experiencing homelessness.”

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At the start of the pandemic, Baltimore City moved several congregate shelter projects into hotels in order to provide housing, while following CDC guidelines that would allow for safe quarantining of people who tested positive for COVID-19.

Currently the city holds lease agreement with two motels and four hotels that provide shelter to 600 people — most older adults or those who have underlying health conditions.

The current model is not sustainable long term, the city said in a press release.

The city is looking for hotels with 110 to 200 bedrooms, on-site laundry facilities, accessible entrances and elevator (if multiple floors), and kitchen facilities. The property would be up-to-code and require minimal renovations to meet the needs of MOHS.

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The RFI is available here.

CBS Baltimore Staff