The historic Black-owned Dunns Josephine Hotel is now serving the homeless.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, owner Kristin Kitchen said she was receiving more cancellations than reservations.

“I went to sleep with a big pit in my stomach,” Kitchen told the Miami Herald. “I waited years for this. This couldn’t be the story. We couldn’t shut down.”

Kitchen decided to take action and help the most vulnerable.  She signed a more than $32,000 monthly agreement with Miami-Dade County to rent out the 15 rooms available.

Since August, she has helped more than 100 people in her Harlem Renaissance-inspired hotel who contracted COVID-19 or were exposed to the virus by living on the street or in a shelter.

About Dunns Josephine Hotel

When the hotel first opened in December, each room was named after prominent Black writers and musicians.

Since opening its doors to help the homeless,  only the TVs, beds and tables remain.

Guests are reportedly not allowed to exit their rooms unless they’re going to a specified appointment, but they keep a cellphone on hand to contact Metris Batts-Coley, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, if they need something.

The duration of stay is analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Some guests stay until they test negative and are able to return to a shelter.  Guests over the age of 60 and those who have underlying health conditions stay until longer-term housing can be identified.

“For a hotel that was brand new, this gave us the opportunity to utilize every nook and cranny of the facility,” said Batts-Coley.