California provided funding for four more homeless housing projects in the Bay Area on Friday, including the conversion of a 130-room hotel in San Francisco.
The Hotel Diva near Union Square in San Francisco will be converted supportive housing for homeless people using a $29 million grant from the state.
The projects were included in a sixth round of grants for Homekey, a state program using federal coronavirus relief money to buy hotels, motels and vacant apartment buildings that can quickly be turned into supportive housing for homeless people
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the awards during a visit to San Jose to tout the Legislature’s recent approval of an additional $200 million for the program. The state originally put $600 million toward the effort in the budget in June.
Homelessness “was our preexisting condition before the pandemic of COVID-19,” Newsom said during a news conference. “We are not walking away from our commitment, not taking our eye off the ball at all.”
About $709 million has now been awarded to 78 projects across 45 cities and counties, Newsom said, which will ultimately provide 5,068 units of housing.
But that accounts for just a fraction of California’s homeless population, which surged to more than 151,000 people in the most recent count last year, including more than 108,000 who are unsheltered. The pandemic may have driven that higher as millions of people lost their jobs.
In recent months, California rented more than 16,000 hotel and motel rooms for homeless people who were exposed or were particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. Now that program, known as Project Roomkey, is coming to an end across the state, raising concerns that many of those people could wind up back on the streets.
“None of us suggested that we could match that in terms of permanency, but we are committed to each and every individual,” Newsom said. “We’re working with every single county, every jurisdiction that’s in partnership with Project Roomkey to identify the answer.”
San Francisco received a $29 million grant from the state Friday to buy the Hotel Diva near Union Square and convert it to permanent housing with supportive services. It is San Francisco’s second Homekey award, after a $45 million grant that the city received last month to buy the Granada Hotel, a 232-room single resident occupancy building.
“We pursued additional Homekey state funding to ensure that the thousands of people who have been in our emergency housing during this public health crisis exit into stable housing placements,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement.
The state gave Oakland more than $17 million Friday for two projects — one to buy the former Hotel Travelers downtown, which has 82 single resident occupancy units, and another to convert the Inn at Temescal, a motel near where Interstates 580 and 980 merge, into 21 units of supportive housing, with a priority for veterans. The city received another $20 million last month to buy a former college dormitory