Two of the three remaining sites for Project Roomkey — a housing program in Los Angeles created during the pandemic — have exited all participants as the program winds down, officials with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority told the City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee Thursday.

The remaining residents at Highland Gardens in Hollywood and Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys — both of which will close to Project Roomkey participants at the end of the month — have exited to permanent or interim housing. A few have been placed into hospitals or long-term care facilities, Nathaniel VerGow, deputy chief of systems at LAHSA, told the committee.

That leaves the Grand Hotel downtown as the only remaining Project Roomkey location. There are 291 participants living at the Grand Hotel, which VerGow said is ahead of schedule in demobilizing. It is scheduled to shutter at the end of January.

During the demobilization period, 29 people at Highland Gardens were exited into permanent housing and 17 into interim housing. At the Airtel Plaza Hotel, 26 were placed into permanent housing and 128 into interim housing. According to VerGow, the large number of interim housing placements at Airtel was consistent with the demobilization plan.

So far at the Grand Hotel, 30 participants have exited into permanent housing and 63 are in interim housing.

VerGow told the committee that LAHSA was focused on increasing the flow of Project Roomkey participants into permanent housing, with several housing placement events taking place at the Grand Hotel.

LAHSA has been sharing data on a weekly basis with council offices that have Project Roomkey sites, as well as the mayor’s office on a biweekly basis, according to VerGow.

Project Roomkey was established during the pandemic to provide temporary emergency housing. It was funded by both the city and the county, but the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency provided full reimbursements through July. There were 37 hotels and motels contracted through the program at its height, with 4,000 rooms available.

The program provided shelter for more than 10,200 people experiencing homelessness over the past two years. Residents received meals, medical screenings and security services. More than 4,100 Project Roomkey participants found permanent housing as of March, according to LAHSA.

In August, the City Council authorized $2.9 million in additional funding for the demobilization of Project Roomkey, after previously authorizing $2.5 million to provide housing navigation services to program participants.

Doug Guthrie, president and CEO of the Housing Authority of the city of Los Angeles, told the committee in August that it’s been taking between 45 and 60 days for a voucher to be approved once a recipient finds a matching residence, which is longer than the 30 days that most landlords would typically hold spaces. He noted that Los Angeles is seeing unprecedented demand for housing, and people relying on vouchers face a particularly uphill climb.

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