California has secured over 16,000 hotel rooms to shelter homeless residents during the Covid-19 pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Santa Clara County leaders announced in Campbell Saturday.
“Project Roomkey,” launched at the beginning of April, had an original goal of 15,000 hotel rooms to allow safe isolation for homeless individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19, those who are elderly or otherwise vulnerable. With support from local leaders and private businesses, Newsom said the state has proudly exceeded that goal.
Motel 6 is offering 5,025 rooms at 47 of its corporate locations in 19 counties, in addition to 10,974 rooms secured by cities and counties with financial support of up to 75 percent from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Newsom said 4,211 people are currently checked into the hotel rooms, and about 108,500 are unhoused throughout the state.
“We cannot do this alone as a state, we’re sort of building the plane but someone else has to fly it.”
The governor added:
“It’s the counties that really lead this effort and it’s the cities that need to support this effort.”
He praised Santa Clara County and others for working proactively to shelter the homeless, but said an equal number of jurisdictions have actively blocked measures that could help vulnerable residents.
“Homeless individuals are members of our community, people that are a paycheck away from losing the capacity to have that key and lock and a place to call home. I hope we’ll consider their lives and future as well.”
Newsom held the news conference outside a Motel 6 location, along with Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez, Supervisor Susan Ellenberg and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.
Liccardo said over 500 homeless individuals have been housed in Santa Clara County so far, and pushed for Congress to support local jurisdictions with a second iteration of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act during the ongoing pandemic.
“We don’t want these rooms simply opened for a few weeks, or a few months:”
The mayor added:
“Let’s give counties and cities the dollars they need to purchase motels so we can really aggressively address the homelessness crisis that will be here well beyond the time that this pandemic passes.”
As of Saturday, Newsom said the state has “flattened the curve” of Covid-19 cases, but the region is not yet safe from the virus. Hospitalizations increased 1.3 percent overnight, and the state recorded 87 deaths – among the highest since the crisis began.
“For those that think we’re out of the woods … those that think we can go back to the way things used to be, I caution you on the basis of that 87 number. The question is, when are we going to see those numbers start to decline on a consistent basis, as opposed to an episodic basis as we have seen in the last week or so.”