Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday the fourth round of awards under Project Homekey, an effort to provide long-term housing for the homeless across the state.
The virtual press conference focused on projects throughout Southern California with local leaders, such as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County Supervisors Hilda Solid and Mark Ridley-Thomas, taking part in the announcement.
What started out as a short-term program, initially called Project Roomkey, is now transitioning into a program focused on long-term help for homeless individuals.
"Confronting and ending homelessness is a team effort, demanding attention, resources and investment from cities, counties and our state,'' Garcetti said. "Los Angeles has taken full advantage of Homekey, submitting applications for 16 properties which, if approved, will add hundreds of permanent supportive housing units to our stock and allow us to bring more of our most vulnerable neighbors indoors.''
The program's fourth round consisted of $147 in funding. In total, the four rounds have funded $590 million in housing costs in the state, according to the governor's office, and Southern California has received about $284 million of that.
Those who have been housed through the program spoke during the press conference to share their experiences.
"It has really really changed my life. You know, I'm safe from COVID-19 here at this site. They make sure that we stay six feet apart. We start from distance, (there's) disinfecting going on all around the clock," said Robbie Davenport.
The now more permanent effort will provide wrap-around services with the goal of helping people get back on their feet while they're leaving in these hotels and motels that have been acquired by local governments. That's in additional to funding that local counties have through their own measures and programs.
"It's going to be a challenge in some ways to get some of our cities, other cities to be more engaged, but I hope they learn from what we have learned that we can impart this information as well as the testament of some of the people that have gone through the program already," said Supervisor Solis.
The county of Los Angeles was awarded $16.1 million for two projects, totaling 145 units with supportive services and rental subsidies to residents.
"I applaud Governor Newsom for his unwavering leadership and investing much-needed resources to combat this crisis within a crisis -- homelessness amid a pandemic," Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. "We have eight motels lined up to be converted into affordable apartments with services, a key component of our COVID-19 recovery rehousing plan.''
The city of Los Angeles was awarded nearly $40 million to create housing for homeless people.
City News Service contributed to this report.