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Gov. Newsom: California Working To Secure 15,000 Hotel Rooms For Homeless During Coronavirus Crisis

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced a new project to try and house the homeless amid the coronavirus crisis.

In his daily press conference on Friday, Newsom said that more than 6,800 hotel and motel rooms had been identified for use by California's homeless population. An occupancy agreement has been reached for use of those hotel rooms, Newsom said.

Newsom noted that the state was working to procure about 15,000 rooms in total.

"This was the crisis that predated the current crisis in the state of California, and we're doing everything in our power to meet it head-on," Newsom said.

The push has been named Project Roomkey and it's a county and state partnership, the governor said.

Homeless advocates have claimed that relatively few of California's estimated 150,000 homeless have been moved into individual quarters as the coronavirus crisis unfolds. However, Newsom said that hundreds of homeless are now being housed.

"What we want to do is relieve the stress in our shelter system so we can separate individuals and ultimately relieve the impact in our medical care delivery system," Newsom said.

The governor made the announcement in front of a Sacramento facility that had already taken 30 people off the streets.

As part of the original plan California had to house the homeless before the coronavirus crisis, dozens of new trailers arrived at Cal Expo ready to take people in.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, the co-chair of California's homelessness task force, thanked Newsom for his leadership on the issue at Friday's press conference.

Steinberg also noted how the coronavirus crisis has accelerated plans to house the homeless - the central topic of Newsom's State of the State address earlier in the year.

"If we do our part now, it could be less of a crisis as we come out of [the coronavirus pandemic]," Steinberg said. "That is the incredible opportunity we all have together during this most difficult time."

Newsom also noted that Chef Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen organization is providing three meals a day for the homeless people at the sites now in operation.

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