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Newsom Announces New Homeless Housing Funding During Pandemic

Andrew Karn via Unsplash

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday new funding for a program to find permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Newsom announced $550 million will be available for cities and counties to buy hotels, tiny homes and vacant apartment buildings as part of Project Homekey. It’s an extension of an emergency housing program, called Project Roomkey, which started in March to temporarily house people in hotels.

The goal of both programs is to provide housing outside of shelters for sick and medically vulnerable people experiencing homelessness.

“This pool of money provides the flexibility for the supervisor, for the health and human service teams, for the counties and cities to procure assets like this,” Newsom said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Shasta County received $309,000 from the state to house people temporarily in motels. They’re currently housing 100 people in Redding.

“This unfortunate crisis of COVID has given us this opportunity because of the state funding priorities for homelessness,” says Donnell Ewert, director of Shasta County Health and Human Services. “We’re definitely going to try to take advantage and our goal all along has been to not just provide temporary housing.”

Another $300 million will be available for counties to help pay for supportive social services once they have a place to stay.

Newsom says, so far, an estimated 14,200 people have been given shelter in 293 hotels around the state.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.