Dear Councilmembers,

Abundant Housing LA logoWe are writing to share our views regarding Emergency Declaration Resolution 2020-19, and to express our strong support for Project Roomkey. Abundant Housing LA is a pro-housing education and advocacy organization working to help solve Southern California’s housing crisis.

First, it is worthwhile to correct the record regarding Project Roomkey. It is a collaborative effort by the State, County, and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to temporarily secure hotel and motel rooms for people experiencing homelessness. It is designed to protect homeless residents who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19, which is why the program is limited to people over 65 or with serious underlying medical conditions. Project Roomkey clients are not COVID-19 positive or symptomatic. Additionally, while Project Roomkey participants are staying at these hotels, on-site service providers work with participants individually to develop an exit plan, in order to move them into a situation that permanently resolves their homelessness.

Project Roomkey is an essential part of the fight against COVID-19 in our communities. By helping older residents quarantine safely, they will be far less likely to contract and spread COVID-19. This protects the capacity of the healthcare system and protects the health of everyone in the San Gabriel Valley community. In this emergency pandemic situation, every community should make every effort to shelter people who are experiencing homelessness.

Unfortunately, Emergency Declaration Resolution 2020-19 impedes efforts to protect the Rosemead community from the spread of COVID-19. It is reasonable for local officials to scrutinize the actions of county and state authorities, in the interests of supporting public health and safety. However, the conditions that would be imposed on Project Roomkey under this resolution (e.g. “Supervision of residents when they leave the Motel 6”, “Submittal and approval of a traffic mitigation plan”) are obviously designed to act as roadblocks to implementation, rather than as genuine public safety measures. The resolution is clearly intended to keep Project Roomkey out of Rosemead.

Furthermore, the tone and content of the resolution portray homeless residents as a dangerous burden, rather than as fellow citizens in need of protection. Additionally, City Councilmember Margaret Clark’s recent memo, shared over email and social media, contains mischaracterizations of the Project Roomkey program, as well as disparagement of people who are homeless. Fearmongering and spreading misinformation are counterproductive as we seek to “flatten the curve” and reduce the spread of COVID-19, and put all members of the community in harm’s way. As public officials, you have a responsibility to all your constituents, homeless or not.

For these reasons, we respectfully request that you vote down Emergency Declaration Resolution 2020-19, and that you cooperate with county and state authorities to quickly and fully implement Project Roomkey in Rosemead.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Leonora Camner, Managing Director of Abundant Housing LA

Anthony Dedousis, Director of Policy and Research of Abundant Housing LA