Track L.A.’s effort to house thousands of homeless people during the COVID-19 pandemic

Track L.A.’s effort to house thousands of homeless people during the COVID-19 pandemic

This page is no longer being updated.

Los Angeles officials launched an unprecedented effort to shield 15,000 homeless people from the coronavirus by moving them into hotel rooms.

Ultimately, officials fell far short of their goal of housing one-quarter of the estimated 60,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County. The program is now winding down and will close in early 2021.

people housed
toward the goal

The Times is tracking the latest data from the operation, which is known as Project Roomkey. This page will update as new figures arrive. Here's what we know so far about the effort to shield homeless people from COVID-19.

How many hotel rooms are ready?

Officials currently have 2,099 hotel rooms leased across the county. Of those, 1,794 are currently occupied, 305 are ready for someone to move in and 0 still need to be prepared.

How many homeless people have COVID-19?

According to the latest government figures, 7,327 homeless people in Los Angeles County tested positive for the coronavirus.

Track coronavirus vaccinations in California

Explore the data tracking the state’s COVID-19 vaccine supply to see how and where it has been distributed so far.

Why did the program fail to reach its goals?

As an initial surge of leases with hotel owners tapered off, it quickly became clear the program would fall well short of its goal and make no more than a small dent in the roughly 48,000 people estimated to be living on the county’s streets.

Phil Ansell, head of the county’s Homeless Initiative, said the limiting factor was the number of hotel and motel owners willing to participate. Although the owners of more than 20,000 properties expressed interest, differences over price, qualms by insurance carriers and lenders, and concerns about branding turned out to be obstacles.

“Project Roomkey was an unprecedented undertaking in an unprecedented situation,” Ansell said. “We didn’t know how it would play out and that included not knowing how hotel and motel owners would respond to the opportunity.”

LAHSA and the county added their own impediment early in the program when they decided for efficiency to target only hotels of 100 or more rooms, eliminating some of the most eager participants.

Where did the money come from?

On April 3, Newsom announced that he had secured funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for hotels and motels to accept homeless guests.

FEMA had pledged to reimburse 75% of the cost to California through April 30 and is expected to extend that commitment. Newsom also set aside $150 million to help counties make up the difference.