A Palm Springs man who was living the American Dream is now on the streets and homeless.
Palm Springs Desert Sun
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced an additional $62 million in emergency funding to allow counties to keep homeless individuals sheltered who were slated to be evicted from temporary hotel rooms by the end of the year.
Project Roomkey is a statewide program launched in April to temporarily house thousands of people in hotel rooms across California to prevent high-risk homeless individuals from contracting COVID-19 while living in encampments, mass shelters or on the streets. The program targeted seniors, pregnant women and others at risk for having severe COVID-19 symptoms.
More than 28,000 people, which is 17% of the state’s homeless population, have received a hotel room placement under the program.
The state previously said initial funding needed to be spent by the end of the year. As a result, nearly 12,000 people still housed in Roomkey hotel rooms — mostly clustered in California’s largest counties — were facing the possibility of returning to homelessness as the pandemic rages on, according to an analysis by The Desert Sun published two weeks prior to Monday’s announcement of additional funding.
It is not clear how many of those individuals will be able to remain in their current hotel room placements with the additional funding. Riverside County, for example, should be receiving a portion of those funds, but the total is unknown, according to Greg Rodriguez, policy advisor for Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. The amount of funding will help determine how many people can stay housed and how many can be assisted in transitioning to permanent housing.
The state is making the one-time funds immediately available to local governments that still have Project Roomkey sites operating “so that clients living in motel or hotel rooms under this life-saving program will not be forced to return to street homelessness while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact California,” according to a statement.
Of the total allocation, $24 million will go directly to funding the hotel rooms.
“Project Roomkey exceeded all expectations, providing safe shelter to more than 22,300 Californians experiencing homelessness,” Newsom said in a statement. “But this pandemic is very much still with us — and we can’t take our eye off the ball. That’s why we’re supporting our counties with this new money, so they can continue this critical life-saving Roomkey mission and help clients transition into more stable, permanent housing.”
The state initially distributed $150 million to counties to address the need, but that funding quickly ran out. Many counties already have shut down their programs completely, kicked clients out due to lack of funding, or stopped taking new clients in.
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Overall, only 5% of Roomkey clients have