Listen Live

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The city of South Bend is leasing out a whole motel in order to give the city’s homeless a place to self-quarantine if they test positive for coronavirus.

Mayor James Mueller and the city’s Board of Public Works has signed off on $270,000 of the city’s money to be used to lease out an 82-room Motel 6 through the end of June in Roseland, a small town incorporated by South Bend. That money does not include other expenses like food and security.

“Being able to separate those who are sick from those who are not will protect the individuals in the shelters but also help our healthcare facilities not be overwhelmed by cases from the shelters,” Mueller said. “A lot of our shelters could become hotspots for infections.”

Mueller said the city is ready to extend its lease of the motel should the virus stick around for longer than expected. He said it’s to give the homeless a place to quarantine but is also a last-resort for people who have nowhere to quarantine should they come down with the virus.

“If you’re suspected you can go to these places while you’re waiting to get the results to see if you are positive,” he said. “And if you test positive you wait out the self-quarantine.”

Many homeless advocates approached Mayor Mueller about having a place for the homeless to quarantine after Mueller made it a priority of his to help the homeless during the coronavirus pandemic. But not everyone is on board with the idea.

Elected leaders in Roseland say they are not informed of the mayor’s plan ahead of time.

“In the time-sensitive nature of the project of the project I do not believe there were communications to Roseland elected officials,” Mueller said.

Some Roseland leaders are concerned that the small town will not be able to handling taking in the city’s homeless. They are asking the mayor to also provide more personal protective equipment and resources to protect the Roseland population from being exposed to the virus.

Food and medical care will be provided to anyone who shows up to the isolation center.