The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve funding for a range of new housing projects, including the acquisition and conversion of eight motel properties to apartments for formerly homeless residents under the state’s Project Homekey.
Homekey is the next phase in the Project Roomkey effort to find temporary housing for individuals living on the street and especially at risk for complications from COVID-19. That includes many seniors and chronically homeless people in need of medical care.
The county was able to house as many as 4,000 homeless individuals under Project Roomkey, according to the motion by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger. However, that progress was beginning to unravel as a result of motels and hotels forced to close due to the pandemic, leading the county to step up as a buyer and seek more permanent solutions.
The board approved spending more than $75 million for the properties.
Hahn — who was an early champion of the idea of leasing out hotel and motel rooms as housing for homeless individuals — proudly pointed to four motel properties being purchased in the Fourth District she represents.
Four Motel 6 properties in Long Beach, Norwalk and unincorporated areas of Whittier and Hacienda Heights will be converted to 354 affordable apartment units with supportive services.
Additional properties currently operated by a variety of motel companies — two in Compton and one each in Baldwin Park and an unincorporated area of Harbor City — will also be renovated, although the number of units was not immediately available.
“We are in the middle of dual crises — an ongoing homeless crisis and a pandemic that threatens the lives of people living on our streets,” Hahn said. “We need to act with the urgency that both crises demand… This model is quicker and less expensive than building new housing from scratch.”
Sens. Bob Archuleta, D-Pico Rivera, and Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, both expressed their support for the move.
“I know my cities are willing to step up and do their part to help the homeless situation that affects so many, including veterans,” Archuleta said, underscoring that he expected the board to honor its commitment to include 24/7 security, medical, mental health services and case management services for residents.
Each motel will initially be used as interim housing — until renovations can be made — and overseen by either the county’s health service department or the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. All sites will provide meals on-site and security around-the-clock, as well as resources to help residents find permanent housing.
The state’s allocation of federal coronavirus relief dollars will fund roughly $60 million of the acquisition, with the county putting up a required match estimated at roughly $14 million.
The board separately approved a plan to spend $490,000 to convert part of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall into interim youth housing for up to three years. The supervisors also signed off an a $378,000 contribution to help build a social services center at a 65-unit permanent supportive housing project set to be developed in Pasadena by the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army was previously awarded $4.4 million in county Affordable Housing Trust Funds for development of the housing units.
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