By Mike Hagerty
Despite historic shortfalls brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom said California’s budget includes more money than last year targeting the homeless crisis on the state’s streets.
Since April, California has provided temporary housing for 22,000 people in a program called “Roomkey,” which was created to get the state’s unhoused population in rooms amid the pandemic. Those people are being sheltered in more than 16,000 rooms in 344 different hotels and motels in 55 of California’s 58 counties.
But the focus needs to shift, Newsom said.
“That was an emergency response,” Newsom said. “Now we need a permanent response, and I’ve long believed that homelessness is solved by permanent, supportive housing.”
Newsom says “Roomkey” is now merging into “Homekey,” a partnership with state and local governments to spend $600 million to buy hotels, motels and apartment buildings statewide by the end of this calendar year.
Cities, counties, local housing agencies and tribal authorities have until September 29 to apply for the funding. Only $50 million of the “Homekey” money comes from the state’s General Fund. The extra $550 million comes from federal coronavirus relief funds which must be spent by the end of the year.
“From my humble perspective, what doesn’t work is continuing to do what you’ve done,” Newsom said. You have to do things differently.”
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