LOS ANGELES - Project Roomkey, a housing program in Los Angeles created during the pandemic, provided permanent housing to more than 4,800 people since it began in 2020, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority announced Friday.
The program is ramping down, with 286 people remaining in two remaining sites -- the Grand Hotel in downtown Los Angeles and the Cadillac Hotel in Venice -- that will shutter in February. In all, officials said the program provided shelter to more than 10,000 people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.
While all participants will receive a subsidy, voucher or at least one offer to move into an interim housing site, officials acknowledged that finding permanent housing even with vouchers is difficult in a "challenging rental market." Officials have issued either a subsidy or voucher to 175 people in the remaining sites.
Doug Guthrie, president and CEO of the Housing Authority of the city of Los Angeles, told the City Council's Homelessness and Poverty Committee in August that it's been taking between 45 and 60 days for a voucher to be approved once a recipient finds a matching residence, which is longer than the 30 days that most landlords would typically hold spaces. He noted that Los Angeles is seeing unprecedented demand for housing, and people relying on vouchers face a particularly uphill climb.
"From the very beginning, it's been LAHSA's intention that everyone who participates in Project Roomkey continues to live indoors after the program comes to a close," said David Simon, interim executive director of LAHSA. "For those we cannot immediately permanently house, we will make every attempt possible to offer an interim housing site that meets their needs and keeps them on a path to a permanent home."
Two sites -- Highland Gardens in Hollywood and Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys -- ramped down in late October, with 52 residents moving into permanent housing and another 197 into interim housing.
LAHSA is also overseeing over 1,000 units in the city and county as part of Project Homekey, a statewide initiative to provide housing for people experiencing homelessness.
"Project Roomkey was an essential intervention that kept people alive during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Councilwoman Nithya Raman, interim chair of the council's Homelessness and Poverty Committee. "My hope is that we are able to incorporate lessons from our ability to quickly provide interim housing at scale during the pandemic into our ongoing and urgent efforts to get Angelenos housed."