Newsom: Project Roomkey Provides Housing for 14,200 Homeless People

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Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said California's initiative to secure hotel and motel rooms to protect the homeless population from the spread of the coronavirus has housed more than 14,000 individuals in the three months since its launch.

The initiative dubbed Project Roomkey has now been extended, Newsom said, with the addition of more than a billion dollars from the recently signed state budget, funds that will go to continued support for the program launched on March 18. The initial investment was $150 million, according to the Governor's Office.

Newsom made the announcement during his briefing from a hotel in Pittsburg in Contra Costa County. A small group of people protesting with drums, a siren and a bullhorn interrupted the news conference, but Newsom and his colleagues managed to keep their composure and get through it.

The goal of Project Roomkey, at least initially, was to provide "noncongregate" shelter for people experiencing homelessness, as well as for front-line health care workers, and ultimately to minimize the strain on hospital capacity across the state during the coronavirus pandemic, the governor said.

Newsom said the program, with the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has procured 15,679 rooms and has housed 14,200 individuals in just three months. Nearly 300 hotels and motels in 52 California counties are participating in Project Roomkey.

An additional $1.3 billion is coming out of the $202 billion state budget Newsom just signed Monday to support programs helping the homeless population, the governor said. He referred to the extension as "Project Homekey."

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