Valenzuela City ‘borrows’ hotel to house homeless during lockdown
MANILA, Philippines — As the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to pose a threat to the homeless, a hotel in Valenzuela City has provided them with temporary shelter.
Since Sunday, 12 street dwellers have been staying at Pisces Resort Hotel and Pavilion after they were found to be at a higher risk of being infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
One of them expressed his gratitude by kneeling before social workers, according to Dorothy Evangelista, officer in charge of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO).
According to her, the man from Barangay Gen. T. de Leon was abandoned by his family despite the threat posed by the virus.
“We want to include them. They are also victims of being homeless, and we want to treat them as equal citizens of Valenzuela,” Evangelista said.
According to the Valenzuela Public Information Office, the hotel in Barangay Coloong opened 10 rooms good for two persons each to maintain social distancing.
Evangelista told reporters that the local government had deployed teams from its Sagip Kalinga project to go around the city and search for homeless people.
“We take custody of them. We have our halfway home but we don’t want our people [there] to be infected with the virus so we were able to come up with a solution,” she said.
The hotel owners agreed to let the local government “borrow” the establishment to house the rescued individuals who would be provided meals for the duration of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, including free medicine, clothes and face masks.
Mayor Rex Gatchalian previously said that there were no homeless people in the city because of its Sagip Kalinga program. Under the program, rescued individuals, once assessed by the CSWDO, are taken to Bahay Kalinga, a halfway home for abused and neglected children, street dwellers and foundlings.
Gatchalian said the hotel would also accommodate nonresidents who were also homeless. Evangelista clarified that the city had yet to conduct mass testing for street dwellers, as front-liners and persons under investigation, particularly the contacts of positive cases, were being prioritized.
As of Wednesday, the Valenzuela City health office had reported 47 positive COVID-19 cases, with four fatalities.
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