Nov 26, 2020 - Health

California officials plan to relocate thousands of homeless people from hotels

A man wrapped in a blanket stands outside blue tarp tents
A homeless man stands outside tents on Skid Row in Los Angeles, California, on Nov. 25. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

California officials say they plan to shut down many of the hotels that have housed over 23,000 homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic, Politico reports.

The big picture: U.S. cities have bought up vacant hotels, apartments and other buildings to ease the burden on shelters of housing homeless people during the pandemic, as many centers have struggled to follow CDC guidelines and are accepting less people to allow for social distancing.

As federal coronavirus stimulus funds dwindle without sign of renewal, local officials in California say they can't afford to continue projects like Roomkey, which housed homeless people in hotels — even though some are confident that FEMA funds will be available under President-elect Joe Biden.

  • Up to 5,000 people across the state could be left without shelter after leaving the Roomkey program, Tomoquia Moss, founder of All Home in the Bay area, told Politico.
  • San Francisco's program to shelter homeless people in hotels was already stretching its budget in September, with costs reaching $18 million per month, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

What's next: Officials say that Project Homekey will replace Roomkey with $835 million to rehabilitate 6,055 motel and hotel units for temporary and permanent housing.

Go deeper