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News Update

Motel 6 agrees to lease, possibly sell, 5,025 rooms for homeless

Two weeks ago, Gov. Newsom announced Project Roomkey, with the goal of leasing 15,000 hotel and motel rooms for homeless residents living on the streets, in shelters and in crowded encampments, where they risk spreading the coronavirus.

At his daily press conference, Newsom said that the state will more than meet the goal with an agreement with the Motel 6 corporation in California to free up 5,025 rooms. The state already had procured 10,974 room occupied so far by 4,211 homeless They will receive three meals daily from Chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen.

There would now be about 16,000 rooms, which Newsom called “good news, real progress in just a few weeks.” Newsom also said the state is negotiating with Motel 6 to purchase the 47 motels, located in 19 counties, for permanent shelters for the homeless beyond the pandemic.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay 75% of the motel costs during the pandemic, with the state filling in the rest through money funded already. Buying the Motel 6 properties would require public-private partnerships, with participation by philanthropies, Newsom said.

Newsom made the announcement at a Motel 6 in Campbell, in Santa Clara County, which Newsom praised, along with Ventura, Riverside, Yolo, Merced and Los Angeles counties for their active efforts to address the homeless crisis. But he expressed “frustration” with city officials in other counties, without naming them, for blocking similar efforts to find properties. History will judge their “NIMBYism” (not-in-my-backyard attitude) during the pandemic, he said, adding, “Please consider the morality of those decisions.”

In a daily data update, Newsom said that 87 Californians died Friday of the coronavirus, bringing total deaths to 1,072. The hospitalization rate was up 1.3 %, with a 0.1% drop in patients under intensive care. The state is looking for consistent declines in those numbers before taking steps to ease shelter-in-place orders.