On Saturday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that Project Roomkey, the statewide effort to secure hotel rooms to be used by the homeless temporarily to keep COVID-19 coronavirus social distancing standards, had surpassed it’s goal of 15,000 hotel rooms across the state.
Newsom said that just under 11,000 had already been secured by the state. But he added that a new deal being finalized with Motel 6 to add another 5,025 rooms would push them past that mark.
“They are setting aside, as part of a master agreement template, some 47 Motel 6’s like this in 19 counties in the state of California,” announced Newsom at the press conference outside a Motel 6 in Campbell.
Newsom announced Project Roomkey in early April. Homeless began moving into rooms just over a week ago. So far 4,211 have moved into hotel rooms across the state, with 38% of all rooms currently being filled.
Project Roomkey allows homeless people to receive a hotel room and 3 meals a day free of charge but only on a temporary basis. California officials have said that since homeless people are more vulnerable, cannot shelter in place, and would be more susceptible to the virus due to close living quarters both inside and outside of shelters without intervention. While all homeless people are being considered, those with coronavirus, those who are easily exposed to the virus, those with poor immune systems and other medical conditions that make them more susceptible, and the elderly are to be considered first.
Newsom has also been continuing to secure partnerships across California for his project.
“We’ve had amazing partnerships not only with Santa Clara County, but Yolo County, Merced County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County and Ventura County,” explained Newsom. “And there’s a reason I mention those counties. They have simply done more than all of the other counties to really support this effort.”
Newsom also added that these county partnerships, as well as the partnership with Motel 6, would lead to longer-term homeless solutions both during and after the coronavirus.
“It make it much easier beyond this pandemic to potentially consider these sites as a broader portfolio to provide some more permanency for those most in need in the state of California,” said Newsom.
This has been met by some criticism.
“They’re testing it right now to see if using Motels as a longer-term shelter can help solve the homeless crisis,” noted housing advocate Mina Ochoa. “If they can give them rooms for cheap, kind-of how poorer people pay weekly to live in motels now, they might become de facto shelters.
I don’t know how this would work or how it would be paid for, because you can be certain that a lot of taxpayers and politicians would take issue with it, but it could become a viable solution if it turns out to be more cost-effective than current shelters.
There’s many factors such as price, location, and damages that make it more expensive, but they’re testing the waters right now. We’ll see.”
Thousands of more rooms are expected to be filled this coming week.
To date California has had 28,963 confirmed coronavirus antibodies cases, with 1,072 deaths, according to the California Department of Public Health.