In April 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom launched Project Roomkey to address the health care needs of people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to supporting the needs of this population, this innovative effort simultaneously generates revenue for the state’s hospitality industry at a time when occupancy rates have plummeted. Coordinated by state and local agencies and community partners, Project Roomkey leverages Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to provide the state’s homeless population with hotel and motel rooms so they have a safe space for supported isolation and quarantining during the pandemic.

The goals of Project Roomkey are to provide the following for individuals experiencing homelessness: (1) self-isolation for individuals who are asymptomatic but at high-risk of negative health outcomes from COVID-19; (2) quarantine capacity for those who have been exposed to the virus and are awaiting results; and (3) quarantine capacity for those who have tested positive but do not require hospitalization. This profile highlights the early successes of the initiative, as well as implementation lessons and challenges.

Homelessness and COVID-19: Innovation Snapshots

This profile is part of an ongoing series produced by the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) in collaboration with the Center for Health Care Strategies that highlights the challenges and innovations of addressing the health needs of people experiencing homelessness during COVID-19 and beyond.