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ICYMI: New Report Highlights Success of Project Roomkey

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: A new, independent report acknowledged the state’s tremendous efforts to assist more than 62,000 people experiencing homelessness through Project Roomkey, which rapidly converted motels and hotels into non-congregant shelter spaces for those in need.

SACRAMENTO – An independent evaluation highlighted the success of Project Roomkey, the state’s groundbreaking program that provided non-congregate shelter options, such as hotels and motels, for people experiencing homelessness to protect human life and minimize strain on the health care system during the pandemic.

“Project Roomkey exemplifies what’s possible when government thinks outside the box and acts with urgency. By leveraging existing hotels and motels, the state, in partnership with local jurisdictions, rapidly housed thousands of Californians in need of assistance. Building upon this successful model, the state established Homekey, a nation-leading approach that continues to be utilized today.”  – Governor Gavin Newsom

The report, produced by Abt Global, noted the following:

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT:  The success of Project Roomkey is a proof point that the challenge of homelessness can be addressed through a cost-effective and timely approach.

Since its launch more than 62,000 individuals received temporary housing through the program, which in many cases included other supportive services such as daily meals, access to healthcare, emotional health and well-being support, and housing navigation and case management.

Roomkey’s success paved the way for Homekey, creating a nation-leading approach to rapidly provide housing for individuals experiencing and at risk of homelessness. Homekey has funded over 15,000 units of housing by converting hotels, motels, office space and other existing structures at an average cost of around $210,000 a door.

“Project Roomkey taught us a great deal and this evaluation helps us focus on what we learned: the urgency created by the COVID-19 pandemic showed us what is possible when we use all the tools at our disposal to work collaboratively, design programs that meet people where they are, and address both health and social needs through our housing models,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “In a matter of months, California secured an additional 16,000 non-congregate shelter rooms and ultimately served over 62,000 people during the pandemic. Project Roomkey also created a pathway for the development of more than 15,000 permanent Homekey units.”

Project Roomkey, which was launched in 2020, was designed to provide medically vulnerable Californians experiencing homelessness with temporary housing in hotel and motel rooms as an alternative to staying in congregate shelters, allowing them to safely isolate during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program has also helped California advance on goals related to increasing non-congregate shelter capacity across the state.

To learn more about this report and Project Roomkey click here.