Frequently Asked Questions about Project Roomkey TransitionsUpdated February 8, 2021. Downloadable version of this FAQ is available here
What are the latest updates about the phase down of Alameda County’s Project Roomkey?
Project Roomkey Alameda County continues to decrease the spread of COVID 19 by providing isolation and quarantine locations and safe shelter for people who are at high risk and would be homeless otherwise.
- To date, two of the Alameda County Project Roomkey Operation Safer Ground sites have closed. The Marina Village Inn in Alameda closed on January 31, and the Quality Inn site in Berkeley closed on December 30th, 2020. Guests who had not yet secured housing were transitioned to another Project Roomkey site.
Alameda County Project Roomkey, Operation Safer Ground Hotel Sites
- Alameda County is exploring options to utilize FEMA to extend temporary shelter offered through Project Roomkey hotel sites thanks to the recent Presidential memo extending and expanding FEMA reimbursement opportunities for non-congregate shelter. A revised timeline for ramping down Project Roomkey will be released shortly as more details become available. Closure of additional Safer Ground sites is paused for the time being.
What is Project Roomkey or Operation Safer Ground?
Project Roomkey hotels were leased to provide temporary shelter as part of the County's emergency response to COVID-19 to keep the community safe and decrease the spread of the virus. As Project Roomkey winds down, State, County, Cities, and Community-based shelter operators and housing providers are working together to provide safe and stable housing options for the more than 1000 guests being served across the Project Roomkey sites.
How has Project Roomkey been funded?
Project Roomkey has operated mostly with CARES Relief funding which ended on December 30, 2020. When we are no longer able to use CARES funding, we will be relying on resources identified for new housing options or for extending non-congregate shelter to maintain Project Roomkey operations.
I heard that the county was buying some of the Project Roomkey hotels and turning them into homeless housing. Which sites are being purchased and what will these sites be used for?
Through the state’s Project Homekey program Alameda County won $14.5 million which has been used to purchase both the Comfort Inn, Oakland and the Days Hotel in Oakland. Both of these hotel sites will continue to operate as non-congregate shelter during 2021. For those two sites, we will prioritize sheltering people from the other Project Roomkey sites who are likely to receive permanent supportive housing referrals and/or are medically fragile.
What are some of the new housing opportunities that will be made available for people exiting Project Roomkey?
Alameda County is working to speed up all of its housing pathways to move people into supportive and rapid rehousing. With Federal, State and local funding, 800-1000 new housing opportunities will also become available over the next several months, including:
1) New Alameda County Homekey sites: adding approximately 240 owned rooms. These sites will be operated as Non-Congregate Shelter (Safer Ground) for highly vulnerable and medically fragile guests through 2021.
2) New Oakland Homekey sites: adding approximately 160 new dedicated affordable units, including 110 rooms as part of the BACS Homekey Program.
3) The Abode Project Roomkey Housing Transitions Program: provides new rental assistance funds for 400+ households through a combination of ESG-CV and CARES funding. Funding provides up to 12 months of rental assistance; clients who need longer support may receive assistance by transitioning to new housing vouchers or other local subsidy programs.
Will Alameda County get any of the $62 million Gov. Newsom announced would be available to continue funding Project Roomkey, and to help participants find housing? If so, how much? Is that enough to keep any of the hotels open longer?
Yes, Alameda County has been allocated $3.5m initially. We are planning to use this funding to extend non-congregate shelter and for the Project Roomkey Rehousing program we’ve been ramping up.
Has the recent surge in COVID cases caused the county to adjust its plans to close the Project Roomkey hotels? Is the county considering keeping any of these hotels open longer because of the surge?
We are seeing some new COVID-19 cases, along with the rest of the community. An additional Project Roomkey Isolation and Quarantine site has been opened for people experiencing homelessness who are COVID positive or currently under investigation due to exposure to COVID-19. The Project Roomkey Isolation and Quarantine sites are scheduled to continue operations for the foreseeable future.
Click here to see our ongoing list of frequently asked questions for Operation Safer Ground hotel staff.
Resources for Project Roomkey Hotel Operators and StaffClick here for a list of resources for Project Roomkey Hotel Operators and Staff.
Operation Safer Ground: Stories of Success
Stories from Operation Safer Ground, Radisson Hotel, Oakland:
After some initial transition, one of our PRK guests began working with staff to get connected to mental health, housing navigation services. This person was able to get connected to full wrap-around services, including the re-start of SSI, and at the end of October they moved into permanent housing.
One of our elderly guests came to us with no family connections and with limited ability to speak English. This person had been chronically homeless for over a year. During their stay at the Safer Ground hotel this guest was able to connect with doctors, receive a much needed cataract surgery on both eyes, as well as additional home support services. We recently referred this guest to rapid rehousing.
A pregnant guest came to our Safer Ground site having received no prior prenatal care. She was able to work with a housing navigator to get connected to a doctor and the medical care she was in need of. This guest was recently housed and had her baby! They are doing great and remain connected with the housing navigator as supplementary support.
Stories from Operation Safer Ground, Residence Inn, Livermore:
One of our Safer Ground guests that had previously struggled with substance abuse was able to build enough trust with our staff that they were able to engage in a process to regain retirement benefits and other income. This client was able to move into his own place, and has reconnected with their case manager and needed medical care services. The client is pretty self-sufficient, but needed the space we were able to provide to get some things in order so that they could successfully transition to permanent housing.
Click here for more stories of success.