MENDOCINO Co., 7/24/20 — Local governments in California will be allocated $600 million in funds to pay for housing for the homeless, Governor Newsom announced Thursday, July 16.
The money is part of the Homekey fund, the newer version of Project Roomkey, in which homeless people at high risk of COVID were housed in hotel rooms and trailers bought by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The project, expected to be the largest expansion of housing for homeless people in recent history, is run by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. According to the press release from Newsom’s office, counties and cities will use the funding to buy hotels, motels, and other shelters and rehabilitate them to be used as permanent housing for people who are either already living in the streets or at risk of homelessness.
Of the $600 million, $550 million come from California’s share of federal Coronavirus Aid Relief Funds, and $50 million come from the state’s General Fund.
Yesterday was the first day that The Department of Housing and Community Development will accept applications for funds, and the first round of projects should be awarded grant money within a month. All of the $600 million should be spent by cities and counties by December 30th.
Here is the press release from Newsom’s office:
Governor Newsom Announces $600 Million in Homekey Funds Now Immediately Available for Local Governments to Purchase Housing for Homeless Californians
Cities and counties to use funds to acquire hotel/motel rooms and other buildings to convert to permanent housing
The Department of Housing & Community Development is issuing a Notice of Funding Availability today for $600 million
Housing is for Californians experiencing homelessness and at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19
SACRAMENTO — Building on the success of Project Roomkey, Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the availability of $600 million in funding for Homekey, the next phase in the state’s response protecting Californians experiencing homelessness who are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19.
Administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), Homekey will be the largest expansion of housing for people experiencing homelessness in recent history, while addressing the continuing health and social service needs of this vulnerable population. The $600 million in grant funding will be made available to counties, cities, and other government entities to purchase and rehabilitate housing including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings, and other types of innovative housing, and convert them into permanent, long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
“Homekey is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to massively expand housing for the homeless in California with federal stimulus funds,” said Governor Newsom. “This unique opportunity requires us to move quickly, in close collaboration with our city and county partners, to protect the most vulnerable people in our state.”
Geographic and racial equity have been baked into Homekey, with dedicated funding for various regions and a goal of addressing the deeply inequitable impact of homelessness on Black and Latino communities across California.
Of the $600 million in funding for Homekey, $550 million will be provided to cities and counties by California’s direct allocation of the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief Funds, with an additional $50 million provided by California’s General Fund to supplement the acquisition and provide initial operating funds.
Governor Newsom urged cities and counties to move quickly. HCD is expected to begin accepting applications on July 22, 2020, and the first tier of projects will be fast tracked for awards during the first 30 days. Any awards cities and counties receive must be spent by December 30, 2020.
HCD and the Department of General Services will provide robust technical assistance to help cities and counties quickly and successfully apply for this critical funding.
In addition to Homekey funding, additional funding for cities and counties will also be available from federal, state, local and philanthropic sources.
To further support speedy implementation of Homekey, Governor Newsom recently signed new legislation providing a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemption and automatic zoning compliance for converted hotels, motels, and other housing types that utilize Homekey funding.
“Homekey builds upon the strong collaboration between the state and local governments that led to the success of Project Roomkey,” said Lourdes Castro Ramírez, Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, which oversees HCD and which includes the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council. “We must use this momentum to build permanent housing solutions for individuals experiencing homelessness.”
“HCD is thrilled to administer this historical program to help the most vulnerable amongst us, while also protecting the public health of all,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “HCD is putting forth dedicated resources to ensure cities and counties receive the assistance they need and these funds are distributed quickly so those most in need are served as soon as possible.”