Nearly 50 Project Roomkey deaths in LA raise concern

Van Nuys hotel recorded 8 dead in program to protect homeless from Covid

Los Angeles /
Jul.July 01, 2021 10:05 AM
The Airtel Plaza Hotel at Van Nuys Airport (Airtel Plaza Hotel)
The Airtel Plaza Hotel at Van Nuys Airport (Airtel Plaza Hotel)

A Los Angeles County program to house homeless people in hotels has registered 49 deaths of residents since its inception at the start of the pandemic.

The statewide Project Roomkey program was set up to house vulnerable individuals in motels and hotels to protect them from exposure to the coronavirus.

The tally includes eight people who died while staying at Airtel Plaza Hotel at Van Nuys Airport, according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper tracked Project Roomkey deaths through this spring with data from the L.A. County medical examiner and the L.A. Homeless Services Authority.

One of the residents died of coronary artery disease, others died of drug overdoses, while another died of “natural causes” off site, according to the Times. Airtel Plaza, one of the largest hotels participating in Project Roomkey, recorded the highest number of deaths.

California and the county set up the federally-funded program in April 2020. Besides protecting people, the program also pumped money into California’s hotel industry, which had all but shutdown.

But Project Roomkey was riddled with issues, some of those included a lack of beds to keep up with demand and allegations that disabled individuals were locked out of the program.

Project Roomkey was supposed to wind down at the end of last year, but federal funds have allowed the county to keep it going through September. Airtel reopened under a new operator in April.

A new advocacy group, Unhoused Tenants Against Carceral Housing, as well as Airtel residents, have complained of a number of issues, saying participants are under curfews and face harassment, according to the report.

“To tell the truth, I would be better off if I had stayed on the streets,” a former Airtel resident, Jennifer Blake, told the paper.

[LAT] — Isabella Farr


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Initiative to decide whether LA hotels should house the homeless
Voters to decide whether LA hotels should house the homeless
Voters to decide whether LA hotels should house the homeless
Skid row in downtown Los Angeles (iStock)
Feds find sheltered homeless population highly concentrated in CA, NY
Feds find sheltered homeless population highly concentrated in CA, NY
State of California to hand out pandemic-related mortgage relief
State of California to hand out pandemic-related mortgage relief
State of California to hand out pandemic-related mortgage relief
Downtown LA’s Standard Hotel to shutter permanently
Downtown LA’s Standard Hotel to shutter permanently
Downtown LA’s Standard Hotel to shutter permanently
Hotel bookings in LA reached pre-pandemic levels in fall
Hotel bookings in LA reached pre-pandemic levels in fall
Hotel bookings in LA reached pre-pandemic levels in fall
Super 8 Canoga Park (Google Maps)
Los Angeles seeks $30M to buy motels for homeless
Los Angeles seeks $30M to buy motels for homeless
Southern California median home price tacks on $85,000 in October
Southern California median home price tacks on $85,000 in October
Southern California median home price tacks on $85,000 in October
(iStock)
USC: rents to rise in SoCal through 2023, metro centers to join suburbs on hikes
USC: rents to rise in SoCal through 2023, metro centers to join suburbs on hikes
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...