Project Roomkey/Housing and Homelessness COVID Response

Project Roomkey was established in March 2020 as part of the state response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of Project Roomkey and Rehousing Strategy was to provide non-congregate shelter options, such as hotels and motels, for people experiencing homelessness, to protect human life, and to minimize strain on health care system capacity.

As the response to the pandemic evolved, so did Project Roomkey.  In November 2020, a new phase of Project Roomkey began, called Project Roomkey and Rehousing Strategy.  This new phase of the program built on existing emergency shelter efforts while also supporting permanent transitions to safe and stable housing to ensure homelessness is non-recurring.

Project Roomkey and Rehousing Strategy gives people who are experiencing homelessness and recovering from COVID-19, or have been exposed to COVID-19, a place to recuperate and properly quarantine outside of a hospital.  It also provides a safe place for isolation for people who are experiencing homelessness and at high risk for medical complications should they to become infected.

Project Roomkey and Rehousing Strategy is designed to quickly provide dedicated resources to ensure Project Roomkey units remain online through the continued public health emergency and that homelessness is non-recurring.  Project Roomkey units are intended to be temporary, emergency shelter options, while the Rehousing Strategy is to ensure no Project Roomkey occupant is forced to exit into unsheltered homelessness by developing and implementing plans to transition individuals from Project Roomkey sites into permanent housing.

Building on the success of Project Roomkey and Rehousing Strategy, the Homekey grant program, which is administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), created additional opportunities for agencies to acquire hotels, motels, apartments, and other buildings to provide long-term homes for people experiencing, or at risk of homelessness. Homekey converts commercial properties and other existing buildings to permanent or interim housing, including but not limited to, hotels, motels, hostels, single-family homes and multifamily apartments, adult residential facilities, and manufactured homes.

Eligibility/For Whom

CDSS recommends prioritizing this resource in a manner consistent with state and federal public health guidance, and FEMA Reimbursement Eligibility Criteria, for people experiencing homelessness which includes people who have tested positive for COVID 19, have been exposed to COVID 19, or are “high risk” of health complications.

How to Apply

Project Roomkey Program and Rehousing Strategy is administered locally and eligibility varies by community.  Project Roomkey is in the process of determining the appropriate ramp down schedule. The dates for site closures will vary based on local needs and are made in consultation with local emergency managers and public health departments.
Contact your local Homeless Continuum of Care or County Welfare Department to learn more about how to connect with your local program.

Information for Project Roomkey/Homelessness Response Providers During COVID

Emergency Planning and Response Guidance for Homeless Services Providers

Additional Emergency Planning and Response Resources

FEMA Non-Congregate Shelter (NCS) Reimbursement Guidance

The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) Recovery Section acts as the grantee for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program. Tribal and local governments are among the entities eligible to apply for Public Assistance (i.e., a subgrant). This is the mechanism by which local governments and tribes will seek FEMA reimbursement for eligible Project Roomkey expenses. CalOES can assist applicants in applying for a Public Assistance subgrant and understanding eligibility requirements. Applicants should also work with their Emergency Services partners in applying for a FEMA Public Assistance subgrant.

Non-Congregate Shelter (NCS): FEMA Approval Letters

Stay Informed on CDSS Housing and Homelessness Program updates and guidance.

Key Guidance

Prioritization and Working with Coordinated Entry

FEMA Reimbursement Screening and Intake Resource Tools

Data and HMIS

Stay Informed on CDSS Housing and Homelessness Program updates and guidance.

Project Roomkey Site Operations

Project Roomkey Wraparound Supports and Services

Stay Informed on CDSS Housing and Homelessness Program updates and guidance.