Updated: Jan 20
In March 2020 the state started Project Roomkey as a housing relief program during the pandemic.
State and local agencies came together to use federal dollars to support the hospitality industry and to help people living outdoors to safely quarantine during COVID-19 by renting out motel rooms.
In May 2021 thanks to community organizers and city/county support, 500 of our community members experiencing homelessness were able stay indoors through Project Roomkey until August 2021. In April 2021 the Sacramento Homeless Union shared pictures and testimonials from inside Project Room Key. In spite of receiving millions of dollars in funding, the accommodations look like something out of a horror movie.
In addition to the reports of blood on mattresses, holes in walls, no refrigerators or microwaves, and mold - participants in the program shared that they aren’t allowed any guests, and often confined to their rooms for all but 30 minutes a day.
The neighbors of Project roomkey also have a bone to pick with the program. Jenna Abbott Executive Director Of The River District Capitol Station Associates wrote a letter and spoke on behalf of the river district. While they support offering housing to those in need, the county is making their part of the district completely overrun by people in need of services, causing problems for local businesses and housed neighbors. Project Roomkey has also not kept their agreement with the neighborhood about housing folx from the neighborhood there, and communicating security risks. Abbott and the Riverdistrict are asking the county to spread out housing options around the city. They’re also worried about a lack of exit plan, which could cause further issues for the river district.
Ethan Dye, Acting Director of Human Assistance, said his team is working on an exit strategy, but it’s top secret until finalized. Dye explains roomkey hotels are also being used for covid patients to quarantine, which frees up ER beds. Local advocates are demanding the county improve on the program by providing safe and sanitary accommodations, lower barriers for receiving services, and provide long term housing options.
While there is a resolution on the table to To Accept Funding From The California Department Of Social Services In The Amount Of $5,339,524 To Extend Project Roomkey September 1, 2021, Through November 30, 2021 - they haven’t shared a signed copy with the public or released information on next steps.
But don't worry! We have an email out to the Clerk, and will keep updating.