Yale University President Peter Salovey announced Saturday that the university will make available 300 beds to house “first responders and hospital personnel,” one day after Mayor Justin Elicker publicly lambasted the university for turning down his request to help house local firefighters and police officers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Yesterday, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker expressed frustration with Yale University’s lack of a swift positive response to his request for the university to provide housing for first responders to COVID-19,” Salovey said in an online statement published Saturday afternoon.
“We are eager to help New Haven with this need. We have been working to make this possible—and we agree that we should move as quickly as we can, in service of people doing extraordinary work on behalf of the New Haven community.
“Toward that end, we will make 300 beds available by the end of this coming week to first responders and hospital personnel.”
Salovey also said that the university will continue to provide expedited coronavirus testing for local first responders. See below for his full statement.
The announcement comes one day after Elicker sharply criticized the university during a Friday afternoon virtual press briefing.
According to Elicker and to a subsequent comment from Karen Peart, Yale’s director of media relations, the university cited dormitory rooms still filled with students’ belongings as one of the primary reasons for Yale’s turning down the city’s request to help house police officers and firefighters who do not have Covid-19 but need a place to stay because of the pandemic.
University of New Haven President Steve Kaplan agreed to make room for first responders “in the first five minutes of the conversation,” Elicker said Friday. He compared Yale’s decision to a neighbor turning down a request to shelter one’s kids “when your house is burning down” and offering instead to pay for a room at “the Econolodge across town.”
In response to Yale’s decision to make available 300 beds by the end of the week, Elicker told the Independent, “We appreciated it.”