New Yorkers are lending their empty homes to out-of-town medical workers during the coronavirus pandemic

Nurses and medical staff stand outside NYU Langone Hospital as people cheer to show their gratitude to medical staff during the daily

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Nurses and medical staff stand outside NYU Langone Hospital as people cheer to show their gratitude to medical staff during the daily “Clap Because We Care” initiative amid the coronavirus outbreak on May 09 2020 in New York City.
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John Lamparski/Getty Images
  • New Yorkers are temporarily donating their empty homes to out-of-town health care workers who need accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • One local, who decided to stay with her father in Minneapolis for the duration of the lockdown told The New York Times that lending out her East Village apartment to an ICU nurse was a “no-brainer.”
  • But those lending out their homes could face trouble with landlords or neighbors since their guests are technically not sub-letting and could potentially put other residents at risk of contracting the virus.
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New Yorkers have been donating their empty homes to out-of-town frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Several people who fled New York at the beginning of the outbreak said they felt guilty about not being able to be there to support the city during the pandemic.

Instead of clapping for key workers or buying take out to support their favorite restaurants, they are choosing to temporarily donate their homes to strangers who need accommodation at this time of crisis.

Hannah Cairns, a New Yorker who decided to crash on her father’s couch in Minneapolis for the duration of the lockdown, is currently lending out her East Village apartment to an ICU nurse.

The 28-year-old, who works in sales, told The New York Times: “The opportunity kind of fell into my lap, and it was a no-brainer. She tried to offer me funds and I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ This was an angel of a human.”

The registered nurse, Leona Hernandez, lives in St. Paul, Minnesota but works in a major hospital in New York.

“This might sound silly, but it lifts my spirits just to know I am here because it means someone is willing to help a complete stranger,” Hernandez said. “It helps me feel a little less alone.”

But some people who’ve offered to donate their apartments are struggling to find any takers.

One journalist, Jordi Lippe-McGraw, has been posting her one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan on Facebook after she fled the city at the beginning of the lockdown. But while she received many initial responses, none of them panned out due to either scheduling issues or because her potential guests got sick.

Those donating their apartments temporarily are also at risk of running into trouble with their landlords or neighbors. Their guests are technically not subletting and are also potentially putting other residents at risk of contracting the virus.

Cairns told NYT: “My main concern is that I could risk eviction for hosting an ICU nurse or more generally having a visitor for a long stay.” While the New Yorker doesn’t plan on returning to her apartment for a while, she said that she was not worried about getting infected upon her eventual return.

New York has been one of the worst-affected areas during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 26,000 people have died in the state as of May 10.