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Baltimore City finalizes $18M deal to purchase two hotels to shelter the homeless

Baltimore City finalizes $18M deal to purchase two hotels to shelter the homeless
Baltimore City finalizes $18M deal to purchase two hotels to shelter the homeless 00:22

BALTIMORE - Baltimore City has finalized more than $18 million to acquire two hotel properties as an emergency shelter for those experiencing homelessness.

City leaders say this is a way to respond to the housing crisis and expand services to help the homeless.

The city will purchase the Sleep Inn and Suites, at 300 N. Front Street, and Holiday Inn Express, at 221 N. Gay Street and 332 N. Front Street. Also purchased by Baltimore City will be the parking lot located between these two hotels at 320 N. Front Street. 

The total cost will be $15.2 million for the acquisition and $3.2 million for the management agreement for both hotels. 

The agreements were approved by the Board of Estimates on Wednesday. The City is expected to close on the properties and the management agreement no later than Spring 2024.  

Baltimore City is using funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) as part of the City's "response to the nationwide housing crisis and the subsequent rise in homelessness," a statement said. 

"The acquisition of these hotels is a critical expansion of our ability to address the needs of our most vulnerable residents," Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said. "The Mayor's Office of Homeless Services, the Mayor's Office of Recovery Programs, the Mayor's Office of Infrastructure Development, the Department of Real Estate, and other critical partners worked diligently to secure a fair deal for the city. We expect the deal to move through the Board of Estimates process in the coming days and put my Administration in a position to add meaningful and immediate capacity to our emergency shelter system."

"The lack of affordable housing has significantly contributed to the increase in people experiencing homelessness around the country and right here in Baltimore City. This purchase aligns with our commitment to address immediate shelter needs, as well as put the city on a path to create permanent supportive housing opportunities for our most vulnerable populations in the near future," added Mayor's Office of Homeless Services Director Ernestina Simmons. "I am grateful to Mayor Scott and all of our partners for recognizing the value of this opportunity as we work to make homelessness rare and brief in Baltimore City."

Speaking from experience, Heather Courts says told WJZ she knows the struggles surrounding housing instability in Baltimore. 

"A year ago, I don't know where I would have been at," Courts said.

But on Wednesday, Baltimore City announced it will be purchasing two hotels plus the parking lot connecting the properties to transition into emergency shelters.

"We were seeing a large increase in population that was in our shelter facilities and we needed to add some additional capacity," said Faith Leach, Baltimore City Chief Administrative Officer.

Leach says this is part of the mayor's initiative to respond to the worsening housing crisis that widened during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While the city rents rooms at certain hotels to house those experiencing homelessness, the properties on North Gay and North Front streets will be the first purchases to use in this capacity. 

"So, like other cities, we started sheltering individuals and families that were experiencing homelessness in hotels, and we immediately saw an impact," Leach said. "We were able to provide safe, secure and decent living conditions."

Combined, the hotels would offer 132 beds for individuals, as well as families who are experiencing homelessness.

Courts says that every space available could give someone a shot at standing on their own two feet again.

"Moving forward, I think it would be in the city's best interest to continue to have resources like these because it's not something that we've had at all, and now we do, and it does help," Courts said. "It helps a lot."

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