The Los Angeles City Council authorized additional funding of $2.9 million on Friday, August 26, for the demobilization of Project Roomkey, a housing program created during the winding down coronavirus pandemic.
The board also voted to temporarily extend the program at its three remaining locations: Highland Gardens in Hollywood, the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys and the LA Grand Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The Airtel Plaza and Highland Gardens sites will close on October 31 and the Grand Hotel site will close at the end of January.
The board previously authorized $2.5 million to provide housing navigation services to program participants. As of last week, 725 people remained in the program.
Housing officials on Thursday provided the council’s homelessness and poverty committee with a report on helping remaining residents find permanent accommodation elsewhere, including the use of a demobilization tracking tool and housing fairs.
The committee chose not to approve the additional $3.1 million requested by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to support the navigation and placement of residents leaving the program.
“This is the ultimate challenge of the homeless system,” Molly Reisman, LAHSA’s acting co-executive director, told the committee. “While that sounds like a lot of money, it’s an incredible rarity considering the sheer numbers we’re trying to serve.”
Reisman added that while expanding the program has allowed LAHSA to serve more people, it has also expanded the need for permanent housing resources, as people enter sites without connecting to vouchers or housing programs. permanent.
“They need this help of some kind of housing allowance, and they need to find a unit,” Reisman said. “And those are two big challenges.”
As of July, 323 residents had been matched or were in the process of receiving an emergency housing voucher, but more than 200 had not yet received a voucher or had not been enrolled in a housing program.
Doug Guthrie, president and CEO of the City of Los Angeles Housing Authority, told the committee earlier this month that it takes between 45 and 60 days for a voucher to be approved once a recipient has found a matching residence, which is longer than the 30 days that most landlords typically hold spaces. He noted that Los Angeles is seeing unprecedented demand for housing, and people who rely on vouchers are facing a particularly tough climb.
The Roomkey project was created during the pandemic to provide temporary emergency housing. It was funded by both the city and county, but the US Federal Emergency Management Agency provided full refunds through July. There were 37 hotels and motels under contract under the program at its peak, with 4,000 rooms available.
The program has provided shelter to over 10,200 homeless people over the past two years. Residents received meals, medical examinations and security services. More than 4,100 Project Roomkey participants found permanent housing in March, according to LAHSA.