Hotel housing for homeless people could end in Alameda County

ALAMEDA COUNTY, California – Alameda County is set in the coming months to close the hotels it has used for the past 18 months as isolation and quarantine centers for the homeless. additional funding, the county health care services agency director said on Tuesday.

Speaking to the county supervisory board, HCSA director Colleen Chawla said the county has enough public and federal funds to keep hotels open until the end of the year, when the housed residents would be offered longer term accommodation.

The HCSA currently plans to spend around $ 118 million on the program until the end of the year, including a potential cut, Chawla said, but hotels could stay open until June of next year if the county is allocating about $ 15 million for the federal pandemic. relief funding to HCSA.

“If it ends in December, we have a plan to cut back by December to serve fewer and fewer people every day until there is no one left at the hotel who is not being offered. no housing, ”said Chawla.

Last year, the county began renting vacant hotels and motels to use as quarantine facilities and temporary housing for the homeless, when the state launched its Project Roomkey partnership with the Federal Human Rights Management Agency. US emergencies to reimburse local governments that did so.

Since then, the county has overseen a pair of initiatives – Operations Comfort and Safer Ground – under Roomkey’s umbrella to provide shelter to homeless residents who have tested positive for or exposed to the virus and to homeless residents. who are at high risk of developing serious illness.

The county has used nine hotels for Comfort and Safer Ground since March 2020, with Chawla estimating four or five hotels and between 350 and 400 rooms are still in use.

As part of Comfort and Safer Ground, the county has also contracted with local community organizations to

Chawla said the HCSA was asking about $ 15 million to keep hotels open until June out of the $ 162 million in federal county funding it received from the American Rescue Plan Act, which includes half of the $ 324 million in ARPA funding allocated to the county.

“This would allow us to extend this period until June,” Chawla said of the funding. “There would still be a deceleration plan, but it would happen closer to June and not December.”

In total, the HCSA – which includes the county’s departments of environment, behavior, and public health – is requesting some $ 54.5 million from the county’s ARPA funding fund to keep hotels open and support others. pandemic era initiatives like COVID-19 testing, case investigation and vaccination.

In a note to the rest of the board, Supervisor Wilma Chan recommended that the board allocate $ 50 million to the HCSA and $ 50 million to the county social services agency.

Chan suggested allocating the remaining $ 62 million to directly support parts of the county that have been hit hard by the pandemic through grants, public awareness programs and economic development.

The board is expected to vote on a funding allocation plan at its next meeting, scheduled for September 28 at 9:30 a.m.

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