The state of California has recently launched a program to offer housing for several homeless people. This is to protect them from COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
The statewide effort is dubbed as “Project Roomkey,” and has already secured almost 7,000 hotel rooms to isolate the homeless. Officials are searching for another 8,000.
The program specifically targets motels and hotels in counties with big homeless populations, as well as those that have a big number of coronavirus infections, most especially those who are at risk of fatal complications.
Those who are more than 65 years old, people with underlying health conditions, those exposed to coronavirus, or those who have tested positive but don’t require hospitalization would be prioritized for the temporary housing project, according to a governor’s office news release.
Newsom announced this at his day-to-day noon briefing after California became the first in the United States to get Federal Emergency Management Agency approval to offer safe isolation capacity for specific populations.
He said that by offering assistance to vulnerable homeless people, California can slow the spread of the coronavirus disease, and lower the number of infected people. This step is crucial to protect health care resources.
FEMA is set to reimburse California for up to 75% of the cost, which include motel and hotel rooms, as well as security, meals and custodial services. Other services, like health care, will be provided by community partners and local governments.
Emergency protective measures aim to encourage physical distancing by lessening the population of the homeless. This, in turn, can flatten the curve and slow down the spread of the virus.
Homeless California residents are highly vulnerable to COVID-19. Oftentimes, they don’t have any option to social distance or self-isolate.
Newsom further said that the state is coordinating with other counties to set up the motel rooms and hotel rooms as quickly as possible.
Around $150 million in emergency homeless assistance has been allotted to combat the escalating situation caused by COVID-19.
Moreover, California has collaborated with World Central Kitchen. World Central Kitchen is an organization founded by José Andrés, a celebrity chef. It offers homeless people three meals a day at selected Project Roomkey sites.
California’s governor also announced a website for those who would want to help their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, like donating blood, volunteering at a food bank or delivering food.
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