With an estimated 151,000 homeless in the state, California on Friday gave grant funding to four more homeless housing projects in the Bay Area. Those allocated resources will help Hotel Diva, a three-star lodge near Union Square, transform into supportive housing for the city's homeless.
Regarding the aforementioned number of homeless Californians, more than 9,700 are accounted for in San Francisco — with that figure likely underreported when one accounts for those living in vehicles. And amid the pandemic, the plights of the unsheltered among us have only worsened.
1 out of every 5 homeless individuals in CA have been served by Project Roomkey. An unprecedented 22,300 people in 6 months.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) October 23, 2020
Now -- we’re expanding that program and building housing at 1/3 of the average cost.
Project Homekey is a model for the nation. pic.twitter.com/On5PqceKJg
They've been subjected to COVID-19 outbreaks at Navigation Centers — that could have been prevented; some were recently stripped of their belongings after luxury events company Non Plus Ultra conducted an unauthorized, illegal street sweep ahead of a large TechCrunch event; the City program to house the homeless, as well as at-risk essential workers, inside SIP hotel rooms (and City-operated RV trailers) is now coming to an end, leaving the over 2,000 thousand "unique individuals" currently served by the program doubtful as to where they'll go next.
Though for some, future respite might be had at Hotel Diva… once the Lower Nob Hill property is converted into a supportive housing project.
According to the Chronicle, Governor Newsom on Friday announced funding for the sixth round of grants for Homekey — a state program using federal "coronavirus relief money to buy hotels, motels and vacant apartment buildings" to convert them into housing for the homeless — of which $29M went toward efforts to transform Hotel Diva into permanent housing for the homeless.
The hotel will also include access to social services, as well.
(Also: this Homekey award comes after a $45M grant SF received last month to buy the Granada Hotel, a 232-room single-occupancy building that's just a half-mile from Hotel Diva, into another permanent shelter.)
This round of funding to the state's Homekey program — which will take primacy over its hotel SIP Roomkey program that, too, is winding down — also served the City of Oakland $17.5M for two housing projects; one of will become an 82-unit hotel expected to assist Alameda County’s "most vulnerable residents," the other being a 21-unit permanent housing property which will give authority to veterans with Veterans Affairs Housing Vouchers. Santa Clara County, as well, received $9.5M to acquire a 54-unit property that will become a 110-unit sanctuary for those experiencing homelessness in the South Bay county.
The state originally put $600 million toward the effort in the budget in June. However, the program's most recent fact sheet asserts that the state's Legislative Budget Committee has approved an additional $200M in aid for Homekey, bringing the total funding available to now over $800 million. Of that total sum, over $700M has already been used to secure properties across the state that will be turned into supportive housing for the homeless.
"[Homelessness in California] was our pre-existing condition before the pandemic of COVID-19,” Newsom said in a news conference Friday before announcing the most recent round of Homkey funding. “We are not walking away from our commitment, not taking our eye off the ball at all.”
A similar sentiment was waxed by Mayor Breed in the news of Hotel Diva's pending philanthropic conversion.
“Permanent Supportive Housing is the foundation of our Homelessness Recovery Plan," Breed says in a release from the Office of the Mayor. "By expanding access to housing and other support, we can create real opportunities for people to get off the streets and create a path for them to live a fuller, healthier life. We pursued additional Homekey State funding to ensure that the thousands of people who have been in our emergency housing during this public health crisis exit into stable housing placements.”
It's unclear as to when Hotel Diva will fully transition into a housing property for the homeless, though program grantees must spend the received funds by their given expenditure deadline; each project must also go into escrow and close by December 30, 2020.
Earlier rounds of Homekey funding went to secure properties in other parts of the Bay Area metros (Mountain View, Stana Rosa, Marin County, etc.), which you can find here.
Image: Screenshot of Hotel Diva at 440 Geary Street, courtesy of Google Maps circa 2019