Some California counties winding down hotels for homeless

By JANIE HAR

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Some California counties are pushing ahead with plans to wind down a program that’s moved homeless people into hotel rooms amid the coronavirus pandemic, despite an emergency cash infusion from the state aimed at preventing people from returning to the streets in colder weather as the virus surges.

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced $62 million for counties to move hotel guests into permanent housing or to extend hotel leases that were part of “Project Roomkey,” which he rolled out this spring as a way to protect some people experiencing homelessness from the virus. The Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to pick up 75% of the cost.

But counties say that with some federal relief funding expiring soon or its status uncertain, it’s time to transition residents from expensive hotel rooms to cheaper, more stable housing. Officials hope to offer a place to every resident leaving a hotel, though they acknowledge not everyone will accept it and affordable housing is difficult to find.

California is one of several states, including Washington, that turned to hotels to shelter homeless people as the virus took hold. Homelessness has soared nationwide during the pandemic, and it was already at a crisis level in California because of an expensive housing market and a shortage of affordable options. The nation’s most populated state has by far the highest number of people on the streets, though other places have a higher per capita rate.

Read the rest if the rest of the story on AP


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