FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2020
Contact: Christopher Yee, 213-219-1417, firstname.lastname@example.org
LAHSA Begins Transition from Project Roomkey To COVID-19 Recovery Plan
Multi-agency effort plans to permanently house at least 4,900 COVID-vulnerable people in next six months, as systemwide housing placements continue that ended homelessness for 21,000 people last year
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LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) today announced that it has begun transitioning clients from Project Roomkey into sustainable housing solutions through the COVID-19 Recovery Plan. The plan features intentional strategies to move the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness out of emergency shelter and into long-term housing solutions.
LA’s homeless rehousing system responded to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis with a quickly organized multi-agency collaboration that brought more than 7,000 vulnerable people inside in just a few months. Through Project Roomkey, the cornerstone of that response, the city and county of Los Angeles secured over 4,000 rooms in 37 hotels, and LAHSA filled them with over 6,000 people.
“With Project Roomkey, we saw what is possible when our system focuses on a rehousing solution and is provided with the resources and political will to accomplish a goal,” said LAHSA Executive Director Heidi Marston. “But that was a temporary solution. With the COVID-19 Recovery Plan, we have dedicated, concentrated resources to move our most vulnerable homeless neighbors into long-term supportive housing. We know that 88% of the people placed through our system don’t return to homelessness, so we must use the full power of this system to prioritize our most vulnerable, and do all we can to make sure they are safely inside for good.”
Based on current funding levels from the City and County for the COVID-19 Recovery Plan, the agency has funds to house at least 4,900 of the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness: those who are 65+ and/or have underlying conditions making them most vulnerable to serious illness or death from COVID-19. Over the next six months, LAHSA will transition clients from all 37 emergency shelter sites into housing, at a rate of 400 to 1,000 people per month.
The COVID-19 Recovery Plan will use a Housing Central Command model to move people from Project Roomkey into housing quickly. The vast majority of the minimum 4,900 will move into newly leased “Recovery Housing.” The Recovery Housing units will consist of preexisting and new units that will be deeply subsidized and come with supportive services. Some people will immediately move into supportive housing units that are opening now or as units turnover each month. Others will be assisted into permanent housing through one-time problem-solving resources without a long-term subsidy.
Once the one-year lease-up period ends, participants with the highest service needs will be transferred to permanent supportive housing on a rolling basis as units become available. Other clients will be transferred to a long-term shallow subsidy program to keep them stably housed. LAHSA will assist participants with lower service needs to housing stability through a short-term recovery rehousing rental subsidy and supportive services.
Most of the people placed into housing through LA’s rehousing system stay housed. Eighty-eight percent of the people placed in permanent housing in 2018 have not returned to homelessness. In 2019, the rehousing system helped 22,769 people move into permanent housing.
Meanwhile, even before COVID-19, LA’s interim housing system helped shelter 25% more people than the year before: 18,395 people experiencing homelessness in LA County were sheltered last year, up from 14,722 the previous year.
The County has approved $43 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds for the COVID-19 Recovery Plan, and LAHSA expects to receive another $80 million in County Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) and $15 million in Measure H funding once initial CRF funds are close to being expended. The City released $30 million out of $97 million in ESG reserved for the Recovery Plan. LAHSA maintains the goal of housing 15,000 COVID-19 vulnerable people experiencing homelessness through the Recovery Plan but will require additional funding from our government partners to meet that goal as well as for landlords to help make units available to house people.
Three Project Roomkey sites have completed their transition. Most of those participants moved temporarily to interim housing or other Project Roomkey sites because the hotel leases expired before LAHSA received the funds for the COVID-19 Recovery Plan.
The COVID-19 Recovery Plan’s massive lease-up effort will be supported by Project Homekey at the County, a statewide program to acquire hotel properties to house people experiencing homelessness. LAHSA and its network of providers are also calling on landlords to participate in the program by contacting PATH Lease Up at 323-644-2200.
COVID-19 Street Recovery Pilot
In addition to the transition of Project Roomkey, the COVID-19 Recovery Plan helps the city of Los Angeles comply with Judge Carter’s order to move people living under freeways. LAHSA is partnering with Council Districts 3, 6, 9, 11, 13, and 15 to launch the COVID-19 Street Recovery Pilot Program, which will house unsheltered people experiencing homelessness who are living near freeways.
The COVID-19 Street Recovery Pilot will help Council Offices quickly comply with Judge Carter’s order while testing the COVID-19 Recovery Plan with Los Angeles’ unsheltered population.
The population that will be housed as a part of Judge Carter’s orders is different than the Recovery plan target population, but the two populations overlap. The population housed under these orders tend to be lower acuity and healthier as opposed to the Recovery Plan’s targeted 15,000 population who are 65+ or have health conditions that would put them at risk of hospitalization or death if they were to catch COVID-19.
“We’re looking to help the city comply with Judge Carter’s order in a way that leverages our Recovery Plan to best make use of the resources we have,” Marston said.
“There are three main elements of successful plans to end homelessness: prevention, rehousing, and housing supply,” said Marston. “LAHSA’s mission is rehousing, and we have doubled the number of housing placements our system makes each year since Measure H, and we must do more. But to truly end inflow to homelessness, our region must make similar investments to address LA’s shortage of 509,000 affordable housing units, and reform the systems that are pushing new people into homelessness faster than we can move them out. Until then, we will continue to improve the effectiveness of our rehousing system, which is moving people out of homelessness at historic speed and scale.”