The number of unhoused Los Angeles residents temporarily sheltered in hotel rooms through the Project Roomkey initiative will increase following the Biden administration’s announcement that 100% of the costs would be eligible for reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday.

“Long before COVID, when I talked about the homelessness crisis, I always said we needed a FEMA-level response to a crisis that predates the pandemic, is involved in the pandemic and will postdate this pandemic,” Garcetti said. “And I was pleased that finally in the midst of this pandemic, we saw the opening of that door, with FEMA offering to help us get our unhoused neighbors off the streets.”

Project Roomkey is a collaborative initiative by state and county officials and the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority to house high-risk people experiencing homelessness in empty hotel and motel rooms. Individuals must be 65 or older or have underlying medical conditions to qualify for the program.

Costs for the program were previously reimbursed by FEMA at 75%. During that time, the city housed 2,000 people in hotels and motels, while the county housed 4,000, Garcetti said.

“I’ve instructed my team and the City Council has instructed our city government together to, with LAHSA, bring hundreds more Angelenos indoors by using those empty hotel and motel rooms across the Southland, and to find folks who are the most vulnerable and put them in shelter,” Garcetti said.

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