Coronavirus News: Woman on mission to make sure health care heroes have place to stay in NYC

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Tuesday, April 7, 2020
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Sandra Bookman talks with the head of a real estate company offering discounts to those who have come to New York City to fight COVID-19.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Health care workers from across the country have answered the call for help and joined doctors and nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle in New York City.

New York Habitat President Marie-Reine Jézéquel witnessed their acts of selfless dedication and wanted to help by providing essential workers with immediate temporary emergency housing near hospitals and crisis centers.

"Really, what fired my engines was the testimonial of nurses, you know speaking about their lives even now what they are going thru," said Jézéquel.

NY Habitat is a short-term rental company that usually caters to corporate clients and tourists.

When the state shutdowns began, business rentals dried up.

"I took the 9/11 mantra: serve the ones who serve," said Jézéquel.

NY Habitat is now offering some of its 800 vacant furnished apartments to health care workers and other first responders at reduced rates.

The apartments available are units near major medical centers in all five boroughs.

Most of these apartments come with fully equipped kitchens; some even have in-unit washers and dryers.

Getting the word out hasn't been easy. Jézéquel has posted on social media, reached out to FEMA, New York City, and even the nurses' union.

Jézéquel admits that by helping the first responders, she is also trying to help her employees and herself.

"I would like to survive," said Jézéquel. "I would like to be able to give a service and keep us going."

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