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Woman turned hotel in Overtown into a homeless shelter to make ends meet and help those in need

Posted at 4:14 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 16:14:32-04

Kristin Kitchen didn’t think she’d be where she’s at today, providing shelter for the homeless in her hotel.

"They started bringing in people saying and knocking on the doors and saying, next week it’s over. This is your last week of guests until further notice," said Kristin.

It was a way for her to make ends meeting during the pandemic.

"I went to sleep feeling really sick to my stomach and worried about the future and I woke up and I just said, God, who can we serve," she said.

That's when Kristin decided to open the hotel doors to some of the county’s most vulnerable.

"We reached out to the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust and asked if they had a need to shelter people during the pandemic. So if there was a group in the shelter, if somebody got COVID, did you need to pull them out and put them somewhere safe and go through the 14-21 day process until they can re-enter back into the shelter," said Kristin.

For over a year, individuals who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 or those who have tested positive, have been coming to the Dunns Josephine Hotel before they’re able to go into a traditional shelter.

According to the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, the hotel was the first to reach out and partner with them. It’s now one of the four remaining locations in the county that have hosted over a five-thousand guests.

"The goal is to keep everyone quarantined and isolated. So once they come in we explain there’s no in and out, once they’re in their room, the goal is to keep them in their room and we provide what they need," said Metris Batts-Coley, Project Director at Dunns Josephine Hotel.

But the hotel does more than just provide shelter. In collaboration with Chapman Partnership, they provide three meals a day, WiFi, access to a cell phone on-site and job search assistance.

"They’ll work with you. They’ll help you. From here I got work. I worked, got some money in," said William Renfroe.

William has been living at the hotel for six months. Originally from Kentucky, William said he moved to Miami about seven years ago. When his companion died, he was left on his own.

"When she passed, we were dependent on two incomes. You think you have friends that are going to help you. I couldn’t find a soul in front of me," said William

William said he’s working on getting back on his feet, with the help of his two new friends.

"Ms. Metris and Ms. Kristin has helped me more than anybody I've known," he said.

"We do what we do and because we’re doing the right thing, the community has supported us," said Metris.