SCV hotel to be used for isolation as CA secures 7K hotel rooms for the homeless

Bridge to Home resident adviser Carlos Flores, left, and Camelot Moving & Storage employee Juan Espita set up a cot and personal belongings of a resident in the gymnasium at the Santa Clarita Community Center in Newhall on Thursday, March 26, 202. Dan Watson/The Signal

A Santa Clarita Valley hotel is slated to be part of an effort to house the homeless amid the coronavirus outbreak, with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement Friday the state has secured 7,000 hotel and motel rooms. 

In the SCV, Los Angeles County has secured one hotel to house homeless individuals vulnerable to the virus, according to Stephanie English, the SCV senior deputy for county Supervisor Kathryn Barger. 

“We have secured a hotel in the Santa Clarita Valley and are working to complete the contract,” she said via email. “We will be using the hotel for our vulnerable homeless community and there are processes and procedures that have been established for this care center and it is currently set up in other areas of the county and is working well.” 

The names of the hotels and motels used across the county, including in the SCV, will not be published or announced, according to Barger spokeswoman Michelle Vega. 

Individuals will be able to access these resources in the SCV through Bridge to Home or L.A. Family Housing. 

“If an individual is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms at a shelter, they should immediately let the staff know about their symptoms so that they can help them stay safe and relocate them if necessary,” said Dana Vanderford, a county homeless policy deputy. “If an individual is unsheltered, they should reach out to their health care provider, caseworker, outreach worker or call the county’s 2-1-1 resource line to seek guidance.”

Last week, the city of Santa Clarita and Bridge to Home entered into an agreement to temporarily move the local homeless shelter to the Newhall Community Center to offer ample space for isolation and social distancing as the nonprofit’s operations still continue. 

No cases were confirmed Friday afternoon in SCV’s homeless population, according to Michael Foley, director at Bridge to Home. 

The county’s and city’s efforts come after Newsom’s Friday announcement on “Project Roomkey,” the initiative that aims to partner with local governments to open as many as 15,000 rooms for the homeless in addition to the 869 homeless individuals most vulnerable to COVID-19 who have already been moved into isolation.

“This has been a point of real concern for all of us for a number of months and top priority since the COVID crisis began to manifest,” said Newsom, adding that in Los Angeles County 756 rooms have been acquired. 

The hotel rooms supplement the 1,300 trailers California has set aside for those experiencing homelessness and the aim is to complement what other counties and cities have been doing. 

As Project Roomkey kicks off, Newsom said local governments will receive up to 75% cost-share reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the hotel and motel costs and that the remaining 25% would come from the state’s $150 million in emergency coronavirus funding or previous funds Newsom had already budgeted for to address the homeless crisis. 

The project also includes wraparound services, such as meals, security, laundry and custodial. 

Those eligible to isolate at these hotel and motel units will be based on a scale, with priority given to: homeless individuals who have tested positive with COVID-19; those who have been exposed to others who have the virus; and individuals who are at higher risk, such as people over 65 or who have underlying health conditions. 

Friday’s announcement comes after a homeless person died Thursday after testing positive for the novel coronavirus in San Francisco and one in March who died of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County. California’s total count of confirmed, positive cases surpassed 10,710, with 2,100 people hospitalized, said Newsom. 

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