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LA City Council Seeks To Expand Program That Houses Homeless Residents In Motel, Hotel Rooms

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to seek ways to expand a program that temporarily houses homeless people in available motel and hotel rooms.

Project Roomkey, which is led by the county and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, houses people 65 or older, those who have underlying medical conditions and those people with other health risks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Homeless people wait to be checked-in to a hotel room in Venice Beach, California on April 26, 2020. - The NGO St. Joseph Center is providing Hotel rooms to the homeless people at risk or infected with Covid-19, through Project Roomkey of the City of Los Angeles. (Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP) (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

"While initially mobilizing an unprecedented volume of emergency housing for 6,600 homeless individuals vulnerable to COVID-19, the concerns related to the availability of federal resources has shifted conversations to whether Project Roomkey locations should begin to be phased out," Council President Nury Martinez stated in her original motion.

"Rather than allowing these concerns to lead conversations about closing down facilities, the city must take a concerted and proactive approach to change these circumstances so that the city can continue to support our most vulnerable homeless populations during a time that their health and safety is at greater risk than ever."

On Wednesday, Martinez made an amendment to the motion that would have city staff ensure units that extend the program would count toward a settlement of providing 6,700 units for homeless people.

The amendment would count toward an agreement with the county on providing shelter for people who are currently living under or near freeway overpasses, which was ordered by a federal judge.

Martinez also asked for a report on recommendations on eligible funding resources to serve as the local match to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's resources.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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