Project Roomkey, launched in early April by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, is the state's effort to "provide safe isolation capacity for tens of thousands of people experiencing homelessness in California in order to protect them and the state from COVID-19." On April 18, the state surpassed its goal of procuring 15,000 hotel and motel rooms for Project Roomkey.
Local governments are responsible for identifying who is selected for isolated housing through the program, and 75 percent of the costs for the rooms and support staff are covered by FEMA. Project Roomkey puts a priority on housing homeless people who have tested positive for coronavirus, those who have been exposed to the virus, and people 65 and older or with underlying medical conditions that put them at higher risk.
But a recent Los Angeles Times analysis found that Project Roomkey has fallen short of expectations, with half of those 15,0000 rooms currently sitting empty. The Times analysis found that less than 5% of California's population of 151,000 homeless people has been housed through the program.
Another potential complication is a landmark court order announced last Friday that requires the city and county of Los Angeles to find shelter for the thousands of homeless people living near L.A. freeways. The order goes into effect on May 22nd. It's still unclear whether hotel and motel rooms leased through Project Roomkey could be used to house some of the estimated 6,000 to 7,000 homeless individuals currently living under overpasses and alongside L.A. freeway ramps.