Portland's Jupiter Hotel becomes coronavirus shelter for medically fragile homeless people
The boutique Jupiter Hotel will become a shelter for homeless people who are at high risk of dying if they contract COVID-19.
The hip hotel connected to the restaurant and venue Doug Fir Lounge will open 81 rooms to people who are already in publicly funded shelters but have respiratory issues or other underlying conditions that put them in a high risk category, but have not tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
"Working together seemed like a no-brainer. The community is our shareholders."
Jupiter Hotel management reached out to Multnomah County to offer the space after Chair Deborah Kafoury put out a call to add hundreds of shelter beds early last week.
"Hotel occupancy rates were plunging and we had an underutilized asset, and the County had an oversized need," said Nick Pearson, Jupiter Hotel's general manager. "Working together seemed like a no-brainer. The community is our shareholders."
The Jupiter was forced to lay off half its staff last week as cancellation requests piled up and daily occupancy rates dropped to between 7% and 20% for the 148 rooms between both the original location and the annex, said Katie Watkins, the Jupiter Hotel's marketing, public relations and brand manager. At the time, Watkins said the Jupiter may have to lay off another 25 percent of its staff by the end of that week. Already, losses stemming from the coronavirus outbreak had forced the Jupiter and the two restaurants at the hotel, Hey Love and Doug Fir Lounge, to lay off a combined 150 employees.
This Oregonian/OregonLive story is shared as part of a local media project to increase COVID-19 news coverage.
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