Back in the beginning of April, California Governor Gavin Newsom launched a new project intended to deal with the potential spread of the novel coronavirus among his state’s burgeoning population of homeless people. Dubbed Project Roomkey, the plan allocated funds to rent thousands of hotel rooms in cities across the state and move the homeless into them in preparation for a transition to more permanent housing. A total of roughly 15,000 rooms wound up being rented. Now, more than a month later, nearly half of those rooms are sitting empty while massive armies of the homeless remain camped out in the streets. (LA Times)
Only about half of the 15,000 hotel and motel rooms that California has leased for mostly homeless people to slow the spread of the coronavirus are now occupied, a review of state records by The Times shows.
More than a month into Gov. Gavin Newsom’s program to get homeless people off the streets, the occupied rooms account for — at most — less than 5% of the 151,000 people who sleep on street corners, under bridges and in emergency shelters across California.
As of Monday, 7,919 hotel rooms had guests and another 7,700 were vacant, according to figures released by Newsom’s office.
I can’t entirely fault Newsom on this score because at least he was willing to try something to both stem the tide of homelessness in his state and lessen the impact of the pandemic spreading through vulnerable populations. The fact that he did manage to get nearly 8,000 people under a roof in barely a month is nothing to sneeze at.