Photo taken by Jessica Christian/The Chronicle
A new program called Homekey, based on Governor Newsom’s project Roomkey which rents places for homeless people, will be giving money to unused motels and hotels in order to provide housing for the homeless. Many motel and hotel owners aren’t doing well due to the pandemic and the drop in tourism, so they are considering selling their properties instead of waiting to reopen. Since people are considering selling, “San Francisco homeless policy leaders have said since early summer they are hoping to buy two or more hotels for conversion, and some leading players in the city’s Homekey process say several properties are in play.”
The goal at Homekey is to find buildings that are not too expensive to redo with a fair price. However, since rents have declined but real estate prices haven’t, this makes it harder to find good places to renovate. Additionally, there is a follow-up cost to supervise the building, making it more expensive. Nevertheless, Mayor London Breed and many others involved with Homekey and providing homes for the homeless have a positive outlook on the progress that can be made, particularly within San Francisco.
In total, Homekey has $600 million in grant funds for taking “local public entities, including cities, counties, or other local public entities, including housing authorities or federally recognized tribal governments within California to purchase and rehabilitate housing, including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings, and other buildings and convert them into interim or permanent, long-term housing.”
Finding homes for the homeless is especially pressing during COVID-19 due to the possible exposure of homeless people, and $550 million of the $600 million in grant funds come from Coronavirus Aid Relief Funds. This issue has been emphasized and brought to light due to the pandemic, but hopefully it is also one that people will continue to focus on even after the pandemic. If you are interested in learning more, we encourage you to read this article or visit the website for Homekey.