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Ninety homeless people considered at high risk have been sheltered at a San Mateo County hotel as part of the county’s efforts to stem the spread of novel coronavirus among vulnerable populations.

The county project known as Bayfront Station leases a block of rooms at an undisclosed hotel in the county for homeless people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms, but are categorized as high risk under federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The county has been granted $750,000 in funding from the California Department of Social Services as part of Project Roomkey, a statewide initiative by Gov. Gavin Newsom to provide non-congregate shelter to high-risk homeless people during the pandemic.

County Manager Mike Callagy said in a statement:

“The County of San Mateo is committed to offering and expanding shelter and housing to our homeless residents who want it.”

Callagy said:

“We are grateful of this funding from the state to support the mission of Project Roomkey and the county’s commitment to protecting the entire community while we are required to shelter in place.”

People placed in the rooms are expected to stay as long as the shelter order remains active and are expected to observe safety protocols such as physical distancing and wearing face coverings when needed.

Occupants are provided with three meals a day, the same as the county provides for those in its shelter program.

Bayfront Station is staffed through a contract with Samaritan House, a nonprofit organization that provides safety net services to low income residents of the county.

County Human Services Agency Director Ken Cole said:

“This critical funding will allow our partnership with Samaritan House and the hotel operator to continue moving forward during this crisis.”

The county said another portion of the Project Roomkey funds could be used to expand shelter capacity and implement additional protocols at facilities, as well as conduct outreach to those who remain unsheltered.

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