A company has offered the Tasmanian Government access to four of its hotels - three of which are in Launceston - to help house the homeless during the coronavirus emergency to ensure they can adequately self-isolate.
Vision Hotels owns the City Park Grand, Cornwall Historic Hotel, the Coach House Launceston and the Scamander Beach Resort, all of which have sat virtually empty for several weeks.
The company also owns two hotels in inner Adelaide that are being used to house dozens of homeless people as part of a scheme by the South Australian Government, which has been provided with discounted rates for the rooms.
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The company has held preliminary discussions with a government department but limited progress was made, although they have provided temporary accommodation for people in need via Anglicare.
Vision Hotels director Brendon Deeley said the South Australian scheme could easily be replicated in Tasmania, and he was happy to provide the hotels.
"The homeless in Tasmania are no different to the homeless in Adelaide - in fact, it's probably worse in Tasmania because of the temperature differential," he said.
"How are they going to self-isolate when they're living on the streets or living precariously? The cost of putting the homeless in hotels - especially when the numbers of homeless are lower in Tasmania - is fairly small when you consider the funds that the government is giving out to all and sundry at the moment.
"The cost would be small, but the impact would be substantial."
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The Western Australian Government has also piloted a similar program.
In Launceston, Strike It Out Inc has used its own funds to provide accommodation to seven adults and three children.
Concerns have been raised that the homeless were at greater risk of the coronavirus as it was more difficult to self-isolate and practice social distancing.
In the last Census, about 1600 Tasmanians listed themselves as homeless, with just a small percentage of those classifying themselves as rough sleepers. The majority were living in insecure or precarious housing situations, such as couch surfing.
Mr Deeley said there had been no issues with housing the homeless in hotels in Adelaide, and it could result in improved health outcomes.
"All of a sudden the government knows where they all are, they can bring in case workers, they can invest better in trying to get homeless people off the street in a way that they couldn't before," he said.
"We're not having congregations in rooms, people aren't inviting their other homeless friends up because they don't have to - their friends have rooms as well.
"There's definitely a level of appreciation from them."
Vision Hotels was also in discussions with Tasmania Police about using the hotels to house people escaping domestic violence situations.
The vast majority of hotels in Launceston have shut down due to the downturn in business resulting from travel restrictions.
Premier Peter Gutwein said the government had already announced $5 million in support for vulnerable people via community service organisations, but did not say whether the government was considering housing homeless people in hotels.
"In terms of Communities Tasmania and [Housing] Minister Jaensch, there are funds available to provide support for our homeless people through that period," he said.
"I did make the point that through this winter period those funds will remain uncapped to ensure we can support people."
A spokesperson for Communities Tasmania said the operation of shelters in Tasmania was continuing as normal.