Newsom plans to extend Project Roomkey housing plan beyond pandemic

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Governor Gavin Newsom said housing and homelessness are still top of his mind during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This remains the top priority of our administration,” he said. “As we battle COVID, we have not taken our eye off the ball.”

When the pandemic hit, Newsom’s administration secured 16,000 hotel rooms for Project Roomkey, a program he said has helped house 22,000 people as of Wednesday.

The governor is moving to spend $600 million to make those hotel and motel rooms permanent spaces for the state to use to provide shelter to those in need, and aiming to use another $400 million for it next year.

Newsom’s administration is now reviewing 138 applications from local governments who want this program in their communities.

“Shelter solves sleep but housing and supportive services solve homelessness,” he said.

Newsom said he plans to put $1.25 billion overall from next year’s budget toward addressing this issue he aimed to tackle before the coronavirus complicated that course in California.

With businesses shut down and many left unemployed, Newsom noted up to four million renters are protected from homelessness — for now.

He said the bill he signed this week to shield them from eviction until February is different from federal efforts, noting California’s moratorium has no income cap while the federal government’s version does. More on the state’s moratorium can be found here.

The clock ran out on lawmakers as they tried to pass other housing-related proposals this year. Newsom said he’s open to calling the legislature back for a special session on pandemic-related issues.

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