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Companies, homeowners step up to provide short-term housing for health care workers in need

Many are offering free or deeply discounted rentals so health care workers don't have to travel home, keeping their families safe

FORT WORTH, Texas — Mistletoe Station is a brand-new apartment complex, right in the middle of Fort Worth’s medical district. But the pandemic has left them with unforeseen vacancies, said Megan Lasch.

"They either are afraid to move or they can’t right now,” said Lasch, president of O-SDA Industries, which owns the property.

But their property management company, Accolade Property Management, quickly realized those vacancies could be a blessing to others.

“We have four units we’re donating free of charge to some of the nurses of Baylor Scott and White,” Lasch said. 

The hospital is walking distance to the apartments.

Free or discounted short-term rentals have become a refuge for health care workers, who either work too far from home or who don’t want to stay at home for fear they may inadvertently bring the virus home to their family members.

Local hosts in Fort Worth have made their availability known to area hospitals, one renter told WFAA Tuesday. She said she compiled a live list of what properties are available for free or at a great discount.

“When we talk to cities about their need, the thing that’s come up over and over again is helping to house medical workers,” said Laura Spanjian, senior public policy director for Airbnb.

Airbnb has gone so far as to start a program called “Frontline Stays,” where health care workers can sign up online for free or discounted rentals across the country and world. Click here for more information.

Spanjian said the program is up and running in Texas.

“We have just over 3,000 stays right now available [in Texas] and we’ve definitely had hundreds of front line workers already apply to get into housing, and we know those numbers will only go up,” she said.

While short-term rentals in Dallas County are prohibited right now, they clarify that they are allowed for essential workers and people who need to self-isolate from family members or roommates for health reasons.

At Mistletoe Station, they even got furnishings donated by Charter furniture, a local furniture company and are preparing for the health care workers to move in shortly.

“As community leaders, we all need to do what we can,” Lasch said.

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