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Coronavirus: City Opens Downtown Hotel To Temporarily House Homeless As Part Of Project Roomkey

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A downtown Los Angeles hotel, shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic, has opened once more — this time as an 11-floor, 460-room temporary homeless shelter.

It's the biggest and most ambitious move yet to get people experiencing homelessness off the streets by putting a major hotel just blocks from Skid Row to use housing the city's most vulnerable.

The Salvation Army, which will supervise mental health and addiction services at the hotel, released a video showcasing the accommodations.

"It gives them an opportunity to be in a comfortable place, off the streets, out of the elements," Major Osei Stewart, incident commander, said. "It gives them food to eat, three meals a day."

The program will last for 90 days and provide case management to those being housed, but the question remains of what happens once the program ends.

"I wish I could tell the future," Stewart said. "I know that we are going to make the best attempt to get people situated."

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The Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority said the hope is that Project Roomkey will be a launching pad to provide ongoing services that keep people off the streets for good.

"We have service providers at every site," Ahmad Chapman said. "We talk to them, offer them housing navigation and other supportive services to ensure that once their time in the hotel ends, we are able to exit each and every one of these folks into a program."

The county set a goal of securing 15,000 motel and hotel rooms, but several weeks into the project, only 1,800 people are being housed as hundreds of hotels remain vacant.

"Everybody at LAHSA, the county and the city, who's involved in this program, are working around the clock and as fast as they can to get as many hotel rooms under contract as possible."

The federal government funds the majority of the program with state and city funds covering the remaining balance.

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