As homelessness continues to be a pressing issue across California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced $600 million in grant funds is now available to help build alternative housing for people living on the streets.
In what has been dubbed Homekey, the state Department of Housing and Community Development will administer the grants to be made available to counties, cities and other government entities to acquire and rebuild hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other types of alternative shelter and convert them into permanent, long-term housing for people experiencing homelessness, the governor's office said.
"Homekey is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to massively expand housing for the homeless in California with federal stimulus funds," Newsom said in a statement. "This unique opportunity requires us to move quickly, in close collaboration with our city and county partners, to protect the most vulnerable people in our state."
Newsom's office said the Homekey project is committed to racial and geographic equality with a specific goal of addressing the impact of homelessness on Black and Latino communities across the state.
Most of the $600 million for Homekey will be provided to cities and counties by California’s direct allocation of the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief Funds, with a $50 million allocation coming from California’s General Fund.
The application process starts on July 22, and the first phase of projects will be fast tracked for funds during the first 30 days, the governor's office said. Any funds must be spent by Dec. 30.
To expedite implementation of Homekey conversions, Newsom recently signed new legislation providing environmental exemptions and automatic zoning compliance for converted hotels, motels and other housing types that use the program's funding, the governor's office said.