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Checking In On LA County Efforts To Get Temporary Housing For Vulnerable Homeless To Stem Spread, Contraction Of COVID-19

Ventura County Rescue Mission workers hand out food packages to the homeless on March 31, 2020 in Ventura, California.
Ventura County Rescue Mission workers hand out food packages to the homeless on March 31, 2020 in Ventura, California.
Brent Stirton/Getty Images

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As part of an effort to provide temporary housing for people in L.A. County experiencing homelessness who are vulnerable to COVID-19, the county’s homeless services agency has been working with Sacramento as well as local service providers and hotels and motels to secure rooms where those living on the street who are at high-risk for contracting the virus could have temporary shelter in the hopes of preventing the spread and contraction of COVID-19.

The county announced the plan earlier this month as part of the statewide initiative called “Project Roomkey” which seeks to secure thousands of hotel and motel rooms for “extremely vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness to help flatten the curve & preserve hospital capacity,” according to a news release from the Governor’s Office. The first site opened here in Los Angeles earlier this month, and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) says they’re aiming to have more than 1,000 beds at 15 sites operational by the end of this week. Housed individuals will get three meals daily as well as have 24-hour on-site security. LAHSA interim executive director Heidi Marston tells LAist that the program is designed for people who are experiencing homelessness but don’t have symptoms of the virus, with the goal being to prevent exposure in the first place.Efforts are also underway to secure hotels and rooms in Orange County, though the Los Angeles Times reports the city of Laguna Hills is pushing back and suing the county over a plan for one of these hotels to be within their boundaries, saying they have concerns about housing a high-risk homeless population in such close proximity to other neighborhoods.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll check in on how things are going with efforts to secure those beds and hotels, and take your calls and questions about housing the homeless during COVID-19 at 866-893-5722.

For additional information and resources from LAHSA, click here. You can also see LAHSA’s list of frequently-asked questions about “Project Roomkey” here and a fact sheet on the county’s COVID-19 response and homelessness here.


Heidi Marston, interim executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the lead agency coordinating housing and services for homeless families and individuals in Los Angeles County

Rev. Andy Bales, CEO of Union Rescue Mission; he tweets @abales