Coronavirus Today: Homelessness, hotels and public health

March 4, 2021

The Los Angeles Times' Data Desk who is tracking Project Roomkey show that 1,879 people were housed through the program as of Tuesday. The hope was to rent rooms for 15,000 people who had been identified as especially vulnerable because of their age or medical conditions.

The program was set to close by the end of March, but more federal funding from the Biden administration allowed it to continue in a scaled-down version, with three hotels staying open until at least the end of September.

When a Project Roomkey client is put up in a hotel, the city pays the tab and then seeks reimbursement from Washington, D.C. Under former President Trump, L.A. expected to receive 75% of the money it spent. In January, President Biden signed an executive order that upped that percentage to 100% until the end of September.

Despite pressure from advocates to expand the program, Garcetti has often cited a cash flow problem as an obstacle. City Hall is facing a financial crisis and needs money to spend before it can get federal reimbursements. It can take years to get those payments, the mayor said. 

The reasoning is not cutting it for advocates. “There is federal money on the table — the literal FEMA response the mayor has been begging for, and yet the city has found excuse after excuse not to take advantage of it,” said Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles attorney Shayla Myers.

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