Proposal to house homeless in same hotel as medical personnel causes controversy

“We were told its 200 people. It’s a done deal and this is the way it’s gonna be.”

Whittier Mayor Joe Vinatieri says he was blindsided to learn last week of a county and state plan to house homeless people at this Whittier hotel. It’s part of Gov. Newsom’s Project Room Key.

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But, for weeks the hotel has been contracted with nearby PIH Health Whittier Hospital to provide rooms for doctors, nurses and other medical personnel working on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

“They’re dealing with COVID patients... and they’re working 12 hours on 12 hours off and instead of going home they would come to the hotel after they’re done,” said Mayor Vinatieri’s.

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 According to this letter sent to the mayor by hospital President James West, about 85 critical care workers have been staying at the Doubletree to protect their families from the virus.

In the letter dated April 22, West expressed concern for workers saying “Many of our healthcare workers have told us that they will not relocate to another hotel further away from the hospital and would choose instead not to work on the COVID-19 units,” according to West.

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The mayor says he’s been in talks with Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn to find an alternate solution. Her office provided FOX 11 with this statement calling front line workers heroes and saying in part:

“If the doctors and nurses are ultimately not satisfied with our safety measures, then I will ask the state to look for 200 rooms elsewhere.”

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FOX 11 reached out to the hospital and is awaiting a response. If approved, the hotel would begin accepting homeless people on April 29.