Amid the pandemic, Los Angeles County is making an unprecedented effort to urgently bring 15,000 homeless people indoors to protect them from COVID-19 and slow the spread of infection. Acting on a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas, 2nd District, and Janice Hahn, 4th District, the Board of Supervisors approved developing a plan to keep particularly vulnerable homeless individuals housed even after the pandemic has subsided.
Currently, the L.A. County CEO Homeless Initiative is collaborating on Project Roomkey with the state of California, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, and other public and private partners to secure 15,000 hotel and motel rooms to serve as temporary homes for people experiencing homelessness who are particularly vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus, especially seniors and those with underlying health conditions. As of April 13, more than 1,946 beds at 23 sites have been procured, of which 515 beds are already in use.
“We can’t just think short-term,” Ridley-Thomas said. “We need to be thinking two steps ahead in order to mount a crisis response that is not only comprehensive, but sustained.”
“Now is the time to be having these conversations – not when the disaster funding runs out,” Ridley-Thomas added. “We may need to strategically prioritize existing resources, including housing vouchers and supportive housing units that are coming online with Measure H and Proposition HHH funding, as well as Rapid Rehousing slots and resources for veterans.”
Hahn said the county is “using unprecedented resources to bring people off the streets and indoors during this pandemic.”
“This is the level of urgency that the homeless crisis has demanded for years, and when the day comes that this pandemic is behind us, we need to ensure that we can take advantage of the progress we have made and make sure that the people we have found shelter do not end up back on the streets,” Hahn said.
The motion called for the county to report back with an initial plan in 30 days and a longer-range implementation framework within 45 days to ensure options to all homeless older adults aged 65 and older who are willing to receive housing and services.
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