LONDON, ONT. -- The resurgence of COVID-19 requires city hall to extend several programs supporting Londoners experiencing homelessness.

In a new report, city staff recommend $1.83 million be spent to extend the Homeless Prevention COVID-19 Response Program, including the rental of hotel rooms to keep people with medical conditions out of shelters.

Set to expire at the end of October, city staff recommend continuing to rent rooms until March 31, 2021. The cost is paid by the federal and provincial governments.

“What we ask of council, is an understanding that we need that transitional space for folks,” says Manager of Homeless Prevention Craig Cooper. “People living I sheltered need to go in a space to stabilize a bit.”

According to Cooper, currently about 70 hotel rooms house about 100 people.

“I have a private room here,” explains Shawn, who has lived inside one of the hotel rooms since the pandemic began. “I don’t have to be around others when food is served. They tend to ask me three times a day about my health which is nice.”

Homeless for more than a year, he has a respiratory condition that makes staying in a shelter dangerous during the pandemic.

Cooper says the program has value to participants and the broader community.

“We’ve seen engagement, people connecting with our programs,” he explains.

Since March, 26 people have successfully transitioned from a hotel room to permanent housing.

There have also been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in London’s shelter system.

Shawn has connected with a doctor and a housing stability worker. On Thursday he hopes to secure a new place to live starting Nov. 1.

“They helped me get my medications, get an inhaler. The Unity Project has been very nice.”

The extension of hotel rooms and other homeless services related to the pandemic will be discussed by council’s Community and Protective Services Committee on Tuesday.