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Project Homekey to receive additional county funding

Housing seniors, chronically homeless

City News Service | 11/5/2020, midnight

The Board of Supervisors recently voted to approve funding for a range of new housing projects, including the acquisition and conversion of eight motel properties to apartments for formerly homeless residents under the state’s Project Homekey.

Homekey is the next phase in the Project Roomkey effort to find temporary housing for individuals living on the street and especially at risk for complications from COVID-19. That includes many seniors and chronically homeless people in need of medical care.

The county was able to house as many as 4,000 homeless individuals under Project Roomkey, according to the motion by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger. However, that progress was beginning to unravel as a result of motels and hotels forced to close due to the pandemic, leading the county to step up as a buyer and seek more permanent solutions.

The board approved spending more than $75 million for the properties.

Hahn—who was an early champion of the idea of leasing out hotel and motel rooms as housing for homeless individuals—pointed to four motel properties being purchased in the Fourth District she represents.

Four Motel 6 properties in Long Beach, Norwalk and unincorporated areas of Whittier and Hacienda Heights will be converted to 354 affordable apartment units with supportive services.

Additional properties currently operated by a variety of motel companies—two in Compton and one each in Baldwin Park and an unincorporated area of Harbor City—will also be renovated, although the number of units was not immediately available.

The state’s allocation of federal coronavirus relief dollars will fund roughly $60 million of the acquisition, with the county putting up a required match estimated at roughly $14 million.