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Help for Heroes: Free 'COVID-19 relief homes' available for first responders

Washington Intern Housing Network is offering free rooms inside "COVID-19 relief homes" now vacant following college shutdowns and displacements.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Facing a number of vacancies following college shutdowns and displacements as a result of the coronavirus, a local housing company is offering free housing to first responders and Peace Corps volunteers helping to stop the spread of the virus in the area.

Jacob Chaney, who helps manage the Washington Intern Housing Network, said the program normally helps place interns and young professionals in apartments and homes when they come to the area.

However, over the last two weeks, a number of residents were impacted by closures and changes after the virus began spreading.

"Obviously, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say this is completely unprecedented," Chaney said. "There was never a plan for something like this." 

Chaney said that 90% of the company's 200 properties remained vacant.

With the homes currently idle, he said his team wanted to lend a helping hand to the people on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus.

"We put our heads together as a staff and tried to figure out a way where we could also do our part," Chaney said. "We saw this need for temporary housing for not just nurses and first responders and medical staff but also hundreds if not thousands of Peace Corps volunteers being recalled." 

The Washington Intern Housing Network now plans to offer free "COVID-19 relief homes" to the groups through at least May.

For Chaney, the effort served as a chance to offer some assistance.

"They don’t want to carry this home to their families," he said. "They don’t want to risk exposing loved ones." 

The postings for the homes on Roomsie allow anyone interested to choose a fully-furnished bedroom. 

Inspired by the outpouring of support from our fellow Washingtonians, we want to do our part to aid in the efforts to combat this global pandemic. We are have 75 private bedrooms in fully furnished private homes that are being offered up to those in need completely free of charge.

Moving forward, Chaney hopes to keep helping the men and women helping to make things safer.

"We’re delighted that we can even be in the position to do this," he said. "We are all in this together. I don’t think there’s a person watching this that hasn’t been touched by this in some way." 

As of Thursday night, 75 private units remained available. 

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