On Thursday, Newsom confirmed the funding became accessible via Project Homekey, an effort to prevent the spread of the virus among the state’s vulnerable and sizable homeless population.
“Homekey is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to massively expand housing for the homeless in California with federal stimulus funds,” Newsom said in a statement. “This unique opportunity requires us to move quickly, in close collaboration with our city and county partners, to protect the most vulnerable people in our state.”
Homekey allows counties to partner with the state to acquire and rehabilitate hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties, which will serve as housing for the homeless. Local leaders will pick out properties that they intend to revamp and apply for grant money.
The governor announced the project at the end of June. It is considered a predecessor to Project Roomkey.
Project Roomkey had made more than 15,600 hotel and motel rooms available to homeless people during the pandemic as a means to protect them from the virus, and to help promote social distancing by reducing the population at shelters.
The move comes as the state is dealing with a spike in confirmed cases, which prompted Newsom to scale back tiered reopening plans.
As of Friday, California had 365,125 confirmed cases of COVID-19.