Until three years ago, Motels4Now was a Knights Inn Motel, but it was largely vacant and rundown. In 2020, it was renovated with funding from the US CARES Act. The money went to a coalition of people concerned about homelessness in South Bend, Indiana, who had a new purpose for the motel. In the pandemic, motels that were largely vacant of tourists were repurposed as places for individuals experiencing homelessness who had COVID to both quarantine and recuperate. In relatively short order, motels began to be seen as a temporary solution to homelessness. Motels4Now represents the ‘low barrier’ or ‘housing first’ approach to homelessness. Experts maintain that it is more effective to provide housing first for homeless people; the other issues that people experiencing homelessness typically deal with – physical or mental disabilities, illness, or addiction – can be more successfully addressed after they are securely housed. “We’ve had 615 guests here over three years,” said Sheila McCarthy, director of Motels4Now. “Some former residents at the motel are moving on to better options of their own, and getting their own places.”

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