VICTORIA -- The B.C. government has purchased the Comfort Inn Hotel near downtown Victoria to provide approximately 65 temporary rooms for the homeless amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the long term, the hotel may be converted to an affordable housing site, after a period of engagement with the community.

In the immediate term, the building, located at 3020 Blanshard St., will offer approximately 65 rooms for people living at Topaz Park and along Pandora Avenue.

“Often people experiencing homelessness are not able to access the support and services they need,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, in an announcement Friday.

“The purchase of the Comfort Inn, combined with medical and social supports, will help people make the transition from the street to permanent housing.”

The Comfort Inn, which was purchased for roughly $18.5 million, will be operated by BC Housing and Our Place.

People staying at the hotel will have access to meals, health-care services, addictions treatment and storage for personal effects.

Staff will also be at the building 24/7 to provide support services and security for residents of the building and the surrounding community.

“This is a substantial investment in our community and will provide housing for those who need it most,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

Homeless campers will be referred to the hotel by Island Health and BC Housing over the next several days.

BC Housing will also be setting up a community advisory committee to help facilitate feedback from the surrounding community about the transition.

The committee will be made up of representatives from the Hillside Quadra and Burnside Gorge community associations and residents of the neighbourhood.

Between April 25 and May 13, 208 people were moved from the homeless encampments at Topaz Park and Pandora Avenue into indoor shelters.

Last week, the B.C. government said it would move all homeless campers in Victoria into indoor sheltering by May 20