Coronavirus: Woman offers free apartment to family in need

Tracy Hughart and her daughter, Elizabeth. CONTRIBUTED

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Tracy Hughart and her daughter, Elizabeth. CONTRIBUTED

Staying at home right now is the responsible decision many people are making to keep their community healthy.

Tracy Hughart is going a step further and offering a temporary home for a family who doesn’t have that option during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have a duplex in Springfield and will put up anyone who is facing homelessness during COVID-19,” read Hughart’s Facebook post on Sunday.

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The reaction was, not surprisingly, an outpouring of gratitude from friends and strangers who were touched by Hughart’s thoughtfulness.

Living in West Chester, Hughart owns some real estate properties with her partner, including the duplex near downtown Springfield. The duplex has sat vacant for eight months and Hughart saw the current coronavirus crisis as a way to turn the empty apartment into a silver lining.

“I just have seen (Facebook) posts with people offering baby wipes, water or whatever,” Hughart said. “I was just thinking, ‘What do I have? I don’t have excess of anything.’”

But even while fearing the worst for her own parents due to their multiple health issues, Hughart realized she might have more of an opportunity to give to someone in need than most people.

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“I pass (homeless) people getting off the exits on the highway and you’re always thinking, ‘What if they can’t be quarantined?’” Hughart said. “They can’t stay away from it. I wonder how many homeless people this is going to affect?”

Several families reached out in response to the post, each with their own story to share.

The challenge, Hughart said, is deciding which family she could help the most and that the family understands that this is a temporary living arrangement and that the apartment has some issues that need repair before it could be properly listed to rent.

Cosmetic or functionality issues aside, one family will now have a place to shelter who otherwise might be on the street.

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“I was thinking about people worried about paying bills and people not getting their unemployment approved,” Hughart said. “People just being afraid.”

Moved by more than one family that let her know they were struggling, Hughart said she has thought about also offering the other side of the duplex. For now, she is offering one apartment for six months, rent free, while the family works to get back on their feet.

“I hope people read this and look at some positive things about this pandemic,” Hughart said. “We’re all being afforded an opportunity to spend time together as a family. The environment is healing, we’re learning as a world to actually, habitually wash our hands — not just when we pee and eat — and gas is cheap.”

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