Flint, MI—Shelter of Flint has received a $10,000 grant to support hotel and motel stays for individuals and families experiencing homelessness and who are unable to stay at the shelter due to COVID-19.

“What this does right now is it provides us another avenue to get people out of the cold, out of cars, out of abandoned buildings, and into somewhere where they can temporarily stay,” said Shelly Hoffman, Shelter of Flint’s development director.

Hoffman added that the motel and hotel stays, or “alternative housing solutions,” are specifically for people impacted by COVID.

“We have, as you can imagine, been battling (COVID) for almost two years now in the shelter,” Hoffman said. “Early on, we created isolation rooms to try to avoid any sort of mass infection in our shelter, and we’ve been pretty successful with that so far.”

Hoffman said the shelter was already running steadily above its 70 person capacity before the county’s latest increase in COVID cases. In fact, she said, shelter staff had seen growing demand for their services ever since the national eviction moratorium was lifted back in August 2021.

“So the demand has just grown with this latest surge,” Hoffman said. “And we simply can’t house everyone in the isolation rooms we have in the shelters. So this funding is now available so that we can move them into hotels, keep the general shelter population safe, and get people off the streets who are suffering and who have COVID.”

The $10,000 grant stems from a community-wide phone call which focused on how shelters are currently supporting their residents with COVID-19. 

The Greater Flint Urgent Relief Fund, a partnership of United Way of Genesee County and the Community Foundation for Greater Flint, heard what was happening and offered its financial support.

“It was actually a proactive grant,” Hoffman said, adding that she believed the funding would help the shelter manage its COVID response through March. “The fact that we haven’t had any sort of outbreaks in our shelter, or any of the shelters in the community, is really something to be proud of, and we owe that to quick thinking, to everybody working together, and to the support of the foundations in our community.”

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....