Throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, one of the small beacons of light that has kept spirits up has been the many frontline workers spending countless hours in hospitals and emergency rooms across South Florida keeping people safe.
Now, one local politician and a prominent businesswoman are working to give residents a chance to give back - by giving those heroes a chance to stay safe and have a decent place to sleep.
Miami city commissioner Ken Russell and businesswoman Ana Milton are combining to help vacant apartments be used by doctors, nurses and other medical personnel who cannot go back to their homes at this time.
“I did hear about some nurses that were trying to keep away from their family by sleeping in their cars and it’s really heartbreaking,” Russell told NBC 6.
When Russell heard that, he made a call to Milton - who owns several condos around Miami-Dade County. Together, they made a pact: let hospital workers stay in 300 otherwise vacant apartment indefinitely and free of charge.
For healthcare workers, it’s a tangible solution. For people like Russell, it’s a symbolic triumph.
“Sometimes, it takes something of this magnitude to make people be human again and get past all the rhetoric and the deep divide,” he said. “I’ve really found my role in this moment is just trying to find those in need and find those who need help and bring them together.”
The units will be available weekly for however long these workers need with an elevator and three floors exclusively dedicated to them.
Russell and Milton want people to know that the need for housing extends far beyond just the area near Jackson Memorial Hospital and the demand is almost overwhelming. The duo is asking any landlords or whoever may have vacancies to consider opening them up to frontline workers in similar situations.