Aurora hotel for homeless virus victims now housing about 40 people

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AURORA | As of Friday morning, about 40 patients have stayed at an Aurora quarantine hotel for homeless and housing-insecure people, according to City officials, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars largely expected to be reimbursed from the federal government. 

The 122-room hotel dubbed the Aurora Emergency Respite Center is still an undisclosed location to protect the privacy of COVID-19 patients. 

The hotel’s new residents are referred by area hospitals and service providers because they would otherwise have no place to safely quarantine. Once at the hotel, the patients are provided with food while waiting out their symptoms and amenities including healthcare provided by community health center STRIDE. 

Shelley McKittrick, the City of Aurora’s homelessness program director, said Thursday about 25 patients were currently staying at the hotel-turned-respite-center with no end in sight to the hospital discharges that land patients in a hotel room for weeks. 

“The isolation needs are going to behind these hospital discharges,” she said.  “I fully expect it will be operating in June, and maybe longer.” 

The operation has come with a $361,500 price tag each month, McKittrick said, since the operation opened its doors in early April. That amounts to about $723,000 so far for room rentals, food service, 24 hours-a-day staffing and security. 

Thanks to intergovernmental agreements with Arapahoe and Adams counties, the counties covering Aurora are together contributing $100,000 every month to the respite center. Those counties can now refer patients living outside of Aurora to a hotel bed.

And up to 75 percent of the respite center’s price tag will be reimbursed by the federal government, although the exact rate is still unclear. McKittrick said the City-operated respite center was approved for Federal Emergency Management Agency dollars that will eventually be doled out.