LA should add 15K hotel rooms to Project Roomkey: Biz Council

Federally-funded program that houses homeless in hotels received extension in December

Los Angeles /
Feb.February 22, 2021 10:35 AM
Los Angeles Business Council President Mary Leslie. (Getty, LABC)
Los Angeles Business Council President Mary Leslie. (Getty, LABC)
 

A leading Los Angeles business group wants the city to substantially expand Project Roomkey, a federally-funded program that houses the homeless in hotels.

The L.A. Business Council made the request in a letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council, saying the city should rent 15,000 more rooms through the program, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. The group represents around 500 businesses citywide.

The state began implementing the program last March during the first wave of the pandemic.

It began getting phased out in the fall amid uncertainty in federal funding. It was extended in late December and in January the Biden administration committed to funding 100 percent of its costs.

“Opportunities like this don’t come along often,” the Business Council said in its letter. “We must take full advantage of it.”

Around 67,000 people were living unsheltered within L.A. city limits as January 2020. The economic fallout of the pandemic has likely put more people on the streets, and more people at risk of becoming homeless and contracting the virus.

Project Roomkey was criticized last year for allegedly discriminating against disabled people and initially falling short of its housing goals.

The statewide successor program, Project Homekey, buys hotels and converts them to semi-permanent interim housing. Project Homekey has largely been seen as a success — as of early January, the program had paid for 6,000 units of housing statewide, including 1,800 in L.A. County.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he wants to earmark $750 million in the upcoming state budget to continue and expand Project Homekey.

[LADN] — Dennis Lynch


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