Project Homekey Round 3 is Coming Soon,
including a standalone Tribal funding pool!
What is Project Homekey? Project Homekey was born from Project Roomkey, a State of California program developed during the pandemic which provided temporary hotel rooms for unhoused individuals at high risk from COVID-19. This program offered high-risk individuals a non-congregate setting to get off of the streets and avoid COVID-19 infection. However, service providers throughout the State found that, beyond being protected from COVID-19, individuals in Project Roomkey housing were more likely to be linked to other services, including transitioning to permanent housing. In many cases, the stress associated with prolonged homelessness can hinder decision making and efforts to improve one’s circumstances; similarly, even signing up for services or securing critical documents like a driver’s license or replacement birth certificate can be challenging or impossible without a permanent street address. Providing individuals experiencing homelessness a safe, private, secure space from which to seek other services or resources led to powerful results.
Recognizing this trend, the State of California transitioned Project Roomkey into Project Homekey by offering grant funding for local jurisdictions and non-profits to purchase hotels and other non-residential structures to convert them to transitional and permanent housing units. The first round of Homekey, made available in late 2020, resulted in the conversion of more than 6,000 hotel rooms or other non-residential units into more than 5,900 residential units across 120 project sites, moving more than 8,200 individuals into housing. The second round of Homekey in 2021 was similarly successful, resulting in the creation of more than 6,800 new housing units across 116 project sites. Homekey Round Two also offered a new opportunity that was not present during Round One: a dedicated tribal set-aside of Homekey funds to support Tribal projects. Though well-intentioned, this Tribal set aside was not entirely accessible to Tribal communities and contained numerous regulatory requirements that were challenging to navigate in the Tribal context.
Given the challenges associated with the Tribal set aside in Round Two, the State of California has indicated that Homekey Round Three will include a dedicated, tribal-specific pool of funding with adjustments to Homekey regulations to better accommodate Tribal communities. The Tribal invitation to apply is anticipated in the Spring, and we look forward to working with our Tribal partners to pursue the next round of Homekey funding and help fund vital new housing developments in our communities. If you have a project concept you’d like to discuss or questions about Project Homekey funding, contact one of the LACO Team Members below!