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Bay Area counties seek more resources for homeless amid pandemic

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — “County governments, city governments, state governments are going into deficits exactly at the same time when people need more resources and investment from county city and state government.”

As Bay Area counties burn through their reserves throughout the pandemic, a good chunk of it goes to housing the homeless in hotel rooms.

But still, counties like Santa Clara and San Francisco need more resources and more rooms.

Many counties like San Francisco are housing the homeless in motels.

While local governments are promised reimbursements for rooms like these, one county has its concerns.

While thousands of homeless across the Bay Area are now in hotels, there’s still a large need for more rooms to self-isolate throughout the pandemic.

Counties like San Francisco and Santa Clara are still working to secure enough hotel rooms and fill them with those who need it.

“I think the public can see now how vulnerable the homeless are and they’re all around us,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese said. “They’re not just going to go away with a major wand. We’re going to need permanent investment well beyond pandemic.”

While more investment and resources are needed, Cortese says the dollars are dwindling.

“Basically calling for us to step up our investment in safety and services,” Cortese said. “At the same time, we got our county executive and chief operating officer after four months of this we are already facing now a $300 million deficit for this year alone and that can grow to as much as 600 million next year.”

Cortese says the county continues to pay for hotel rooms, but they haven’t received any help yet.

“There’s been a limit, basically zero, state assistance in terms of dollars for motel rooms,” he said.

Meanwhile the state is also looking for a solution to homelessness by converting hotel lease agreements into purchasing deals through Project Homekey.

While Cortese says FEMA reimbursement will eventually come in the short-term, he’s concerned about future funding to shelter the homeless.

“Our county office has been in charge of building permanent housing for the homeless. There’s over two dozens project underway and that’s all local county money,” he said. “It’s money from our taxpayers and according to our housing department we haven’t received Project Home Key or any money from the state.”

When asked about similar funding concerns, Supervisor Matt Hhaney says the city’s doing everything it can to get the FEMA reimbursements, adding now is a time to change what wasn’t working in the past.

“Let’s actually make this a moment to truly transform in a huge way our approach to homeless by bringing them inside and keeping them inside,” Haney said.

In San Francisco, the city announced a new program where 200 of those staying in hotels will be chosen for a flexibility housing subsidy pool and placed in homes by the end of the year.

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