The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to use about $32 million in state funds to extend a program through March 21 that houses homeless people in motels and hotels amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said Los Angeles is currently providing 1,269 hotel and motel rooms through Project Roomkey to bring high-risk homeless residents indoors.

“This action is necessary to prevent people temporarily sheltered from ending up back on the streets in the coming days and weeks,” O’Farrell said.

O’Farrell said cabin communities and other housing homeless amenities should become available before the program can be terminated.

“We’ve got to do this. People are dying on the streets,” said Councilman Bob Blumenfield, but he also questioned how much the city pays for the program per night.

Representatives of the City Administrative Officer said the average cost per night is about $100 per room per night at motels and about $200 for hotels per room per night.

The program was intended to provide short-term housing for homeless people amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has now lasted about nine months and was expected to expire later this month.

Even with the state funding that’s being used to support Project Roomkey, the council will have to find another $1.6 million.

“A very significant amount of this funding is reimbursable,” O’Farrell said.

According to city documents, about $30.8 million of the city’s Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention Program will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state.

Councilman Kevin de Leon said he had concerns with the proposal to use $6 million in state funding that was intended for Skid Row projects, and he said he wanted to be assured that money would be reimbursed in order to serve one of the most populous homeless neighborhoods in the city.

“I don’t want to find out through a memo that $6 million is about to disappear,” de Leon said.

The Project Roomkey program is designed to help people experiencing homelessness who are 65 and older and who have underlying conditions that place them at a high risk for hospitalization if they were to contract the virus.

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