Homeless Hotel Eyes Meetings, Events in Louisville

Because it was unable to secure permits to open a homeless shelter there, Wayside Christian Mission has decided to operate Hotel Louisville Downtown in Louisville, Ky., as a hotel, and is looking to meetings and events as a way to boost revenues, according to local media reports.

Wayside purchased the hotel in May for $10 million, intending to reopen it as a downtown homeless shelter. Earlier this month, however, it got tired of waiting for a local government task force to approve its permits and decided instead to reopen the building as a hotel, allowing homeless people to rent "economy" guest rooms for just a penny a night.

"We've got winter coming on," Nina Moseley, Wayside's chief operating officer, told local newspaper The Courier-Journal. "There are families and women who've got no place to go."

Hotel Louisville Downtown has dedicated two out of 12 floors—58 rooms out of the 116 that the 287-room hotel is currently using—to "economy" accommodations. Homeless guests can stay in those rooms for up to 30 days at a cost of 30 cents, which is being paid by Wayside.

Because its operating costs are high, however, Wayside is looking for ways to stimulate revenue for the hotel, and meetings and events are at the top of its list.

"This is a large facility to operate and so we are trying to be creative and think of some ways to increase revenue on this building to offset the utilities and so forth," Moseley told local TV news station WAVE 3 TV. "We just want to be able to operate and take care of our people and help them get their lives back together and back out into the community, which is what we're good at doing."

Hotel Louisville Downtown has 13,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including 10 meeting rooms for up to 500 attendees. Wayside already hosted at least one successful meeting there early this month.

"It went beautiful," Moseley told WAVE 3 TV. "They said they would be back."