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Project Roomkey Was Allowed by County in Artesia Travelodge

artesia travelodge

A room at the Travelodge

 

The county has announced the program will be winding down early next year. 

BY BRIAN HEWS • September 26, 2020

When Los Angeles County first proposed Project Roomkey – using hotels to house the homeless and the most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19- a hotel in Norwalk was one of the first identified for housing.

Norwalk city officials were up in arms saying they were not consulted by L.A. County to open the hotel in their city so officials voted to impose a temporary ban on hotel conversions without prior city approval, passing an emergency ordinance.

Just one day later, L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger authorized the county to sue Norwalk.

“That action is an attack on Project Roomkey, injecting an illegal city approval process to a program that has been expressly authorized under state law, attempting to supersede the clear authority of the state and the county to address the COVID-19 emergency without delay,” the order said.

Five days after later, a judge issued a temporary restraining order directing Norwalk to comply with the state, with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Samantha Jessner ruling the interests of the county in implementing a state order under Project Roomkey to safely house the homeless during the pandemic outweighed any harm the city could suffer.

Now the same personnel and temporary blockages can be seen at the Artesia Travelodge, which was chosen by LA County a few weeks ago as another hotel under Project Roomkey.

Hotel rooms provide temporary housing for people experiencing homelessness who are not COVID-19 positive or symptomatic, but are vulnerable to complications should they become infected with COVID-19.

Only people 65 years of age or older or who had underlying medical conditions qualified.

Workers can be seen going door-to-door to deliver three pre-packaged meals and two snacks daily, sanitizing, record-keeping, making sure guests wear masks and keep their distance and, importantly, maintaining a positive environment for fragile people who are isolated in their rooms for long hours every day.

Now, according to the L.A. Times, the project is ending.

The Times reported that one hotel emptied its rooms in late August and two others are in the midst of closing out the program and is beginning of the end for the $100 million-plus program meant to repurpose empty hotels and motels as safe havens for homeless people.

Heidi Marston, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, told the Times, “after peaking at just over 4,300 guests — about 30% of its ambitious goal — the project will shed several hundred beds monthly until it closes down early next year.”

While participants are staying at these hotels, on-site service providers are working with each client to develop an exit plan, with the goal of moving them to a situation that resolves their homelessness. In cases where this isn’t feasible, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority will use existing shelter capacity to move people into an interim housing environment or explore other options.

 

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