At first the coronavirus took away, but then it gave back again.
Janet Marston Harris, who owns the McNeal House, an Airbnb in Pasadena, normally has four units totally rented to a variety of people, including college students on internships and short-term workers from the petrochemical, aerospace and maritime industries. In recent years, Pasadena has developed as a hot spot for Airbnb rentals because of its proximity to industries in Houston and the Bay area.
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But when COVID-19 hit, business ground to a halt as people worked from home and were reluctant to travel.
Harris had to take a hard look at the way she operated.
“I didn’t even have a business plan,” she said. “(At the beginning of the pandemic,) I had a cancellation. It was a college intern coming in for the summer and she canceled. (After that) I had empty apartments for two or three months, and that was pretty frightening. Then I got the stimulus check and that helped.”
About two months ago Harris found a faint silver lining in the pandemic.
“Then the traveling nurses came because of the virus, and now I have a different type of business,” she said. “I’ve had traveling nurses before, but not to the extent I have them now.”
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Traveling nurses are just what you’d guess. They work for independent staffing agencies and are assigned to different areas to fill in short-term employment gaps. When their rotation is finished, they move on to the next location where they are needed.
”Traveling nurses typically come in for 13 weeks,” Harris said. “Sometimes they come in longer. These nurses are here because of the virus.”
To tap into the traveling nurse market, Harris did a bit of a pivot and signed on with Furnished Finder, which specializes in finding housing for those temporary employees.
Furnished Finder apartments come with various accouterments, such as towels linens, dishes and cookware. Harris’ units also have a washer and dryer, private patio and a dedicated parking space.
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”I do whatever I can to make it nice for them,” Harris said. “They come here to work, and they don’t want to go out and buy all of that stuff.”
That aspect was attractive for Angie Schneider, a traveling nurse from Louisville, Ky.
“My (work) consultant gave me a couple of different places (to look at), but I went to Furnished Finder because I didn’t to have to bring my whole house,” she said. “I didn’t want to have an apartment where I was going to have to bring furniture.”
Schneider is a relative newcomer to traveling nursing and in the back half of a 13-week assignment.
“This is my second assignment,” she said. “I’ve been a nurse for almost 12 years. My husband (Myron) recently took an early retirement so that he could travel with me.
“So far, it’s been great.”
John DeLapp is a freelance writer. He can be contacted at [email protected]