MODESTO, Calif — California Governor Gavin Newsom's office announced Thursday a major boost to help give people experiencing homelessness a roof over their heads by putting $600 million from the state budget toward the so-called Project Homekey.
The project is the next phase of Project Roomkey, a collaborative effort from state and local officials to house the unhoused during the coronavirus pandemic. The new phase is a plan to give those facing homelessness during the pandemic a key to their own home not just one to a room.
Of the $600 million, "$550 million is derived from the State's direct allocation of the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief Funds (CRF), and $50 million is derived from the State's General Fund," according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
The grant money isn't flowing yet because cities and counties will have to apply. Once approved, they'll use the money to buy hotels, motels and vacant apartment buildings and turn them into permanent housing for homeless residents.
Jessica Sayler and her 5-year-old son Denicio, or "Peanut" as she calls him, need a permanent place to live. Sayler said she's been living there for a little more than a month. She's part of the Homeless Assistance Program in Modesto.
"I've unfortunately been dealt a bad hand, and this time I'm staying at the Days Inn in Modesto," Sayler said.
Sayler reached out to ABC10 for help and signed her message, "Sincerely scared in Stanislaus."
"I can't even fathom living on the streets during the pandemic," she said.
With the state's new project, Sayler said she hopes the funding doesn't run out anytime soon. Project Roomkey's funding ended June 30.
"I got so excited and literally got butterflies in my stomach," Sayler recalled of hearing the announcement of Project Homekey. "Like, they are actually going to help us."
Dan Rosas, spokesperson for Stanislaus County Community Services Agency, told ABC10 that the county is still focusing on providing rooms for people "who are COVID-related or who are at high risk" and can't be in shelters.
Rosas said the next step is the county will have to apply for the funding.
Cities and counties have to spend the money by December 30, 2020.
"We hope that funding secured through Project Homekey will help increase housing opportunities for those in need of permanent housing," Rosas said.
Sayler hopes this project will help her.
"That's ultimately what I care about," she said. "I want to be safe. I don't want to be living in a park or look over my shoulder or stay up all night."
Follow the conversation on Facebook with Madison Wade.
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