By Tim Houchen
May 11, 2020 —
On March 15, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom first announced the state’s intention to provide motel/hotel rooms and trailers for persons experiencing homelessness for the most vulnerable and at-risk for contracting the coronavirus. The Governor nick-named this action as, “Project Roomkey.”
Project Roomkey is a State initiative designed to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by providing non-congregate shelter in hotels and motels for sick and medically vulnerable persons experiencing homelessness. Based on the latest public health guidance from the State and Federal government, it is recommended that persons known to be COVID-19 positive or known to have been exposed to COVID-19 and those with high-risk factors such as age over 65, chronical health conditions, and respiratory issues, be provided the resources to practice Safer at Home guidelines.
The latest information regarding Project Roomkey has been provided to Homeless Perspective by a reliable source with the County of Orange for the purpose of sharing the information publicly.
In Orange County a total of five hotels that are currently under contract with the county and being utilized for Project Roomkey. The hotels are located in the City of Orange, Laguna Hills, Stanton, Anaheim and Huntington Beach.
· For COVID-19 positive or known to have been exposed to COVID-19, there are two hotel sites with a total capacity of 203 rooms.
· For those with high-risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness, there are three hotel sites with a total capacity of 463 rooms.
As of May 7, 2020, there were 13 individuals who were in Temporary isolation Shelters as they were COVID-19 positive or known to have been exposed to COVID-19. There were 159 individuals in motel rooms due to having high-risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness. No deaths have occurred at any of the sites.
The Joplin Youth Center is currently operating as an alternative shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness in the South Service Planning Area. It has the capacity to serve 100 individuals, including couples. Individuals enrolled in the program will be practicing social distancing and adhering to Safer at Home guidelines. As of May 7, 2020, the occupancy was 24.
Individuals experiencing homelessness who are symptomatic for COVID-19 and going into the Project Roomkey program are being tested for COVID-19. This is being coordinated by Illumination Foundation who is managing the Project Roomkey on behalf of the County.
HCA’s Public Health continues to provide technical assistance to emergency shelter providers and provide trainings on sanitation of facilities, ongoing screenings of participants and staff, enhancing social distancing, and isolation practices for probable virus positive persons.
The Office of Care Coordination has established a Project Roomkey Helpline this week (714-834-3000), staffed by County employees, that is available M-F, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (weekend callers can leave messages that will be returned the following Monday) to provide the following:
· information to the public regarding motel rooms available to those experiencing homelessness in Orange County through Project Roomkey
· screening for eligibility and referral to Illumination Foundation as appropriate
· information and referrals to other community resources and access points
The Office of Care Coordination is open to suggestions on how to help increase information in the community. The Office of Care Coordination has established a distribution list to share updates and resources related to COVID-19 response. In an effort to make the information widely available, there is also a website where the information is posted – https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/homelessness-care-providers
Orange County Project Roomkey Helpline
COVID-19 Updates and Resources
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