County of Sacramento logoThe Sacramento COVID-19 Homelessness Response Team (Team), comprised of the County of Sacramento, City of Sacramento and Sacramento Steps Forward (SSF), has been working diligently for a full year on COVID-19 Homelessness Response.

The strategy included bringing the most vulnerable into isolation trailers and preventative quarantine motels (Project Room Key), providing encampment support for those staying in place and equipping existing congregate shelters with safety measures.

While rehousing efforts have always been the number one focus, the sheltering sites, initially slated for a three-month run, have been extended several times and are still operational more than a year later. Due to the expensive nature of elongating this emergency response, the motels were given an upcoming closure schedule of April 30, May 30 and June 30 – but the Board of Supervisors directed DHA to keep them open through August.

The Team continues to explore all sources of local and federal funding allowable to keep the motels open to continue sheltering guests while working on rehousing efforts. The Team has sought FEMA reimbursement for all eligible costs and for eligible people served, however, to maximize the model’s ability to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, the community offered preventative quarantine sheltering and services to a broader population of people experiencing homelessness than those included with FEMA’s criteria.

The Team is hopeful that forthcoming federal relief funds will have allowance to fund the motel response for the allotted period of time while continuing the important work of rehousing guests. While the sheltering aspect of our fight against homelessness is important, we are doing everything we can to move people into a more permanent and healthy living situation. Staff will prioritize the outreach and education needed to communicate how critical the rehousing efforts of this program is to guests and the community. This effort does not come without barriers, some of which are access to affordable housing, lack of landlords, and lack of income, to name a few.

COVID-19 Homelessness Response by the numbers:

  • Project Room Key
    • 1,356 individuals sheltered
    • 51 percent older than 55
    • 39 percent with chronic health conditions
    • 57 percent experienced homelessness for longer than one year
    • 372 rooms still operational
    • 468 persons currently sheltered (as of 4/10/21)
  • Encampment Support 
    • 58 handwashing stations
    • 52 toilets deployed to encampments
    • 72,000 meals provided to unsheltered
  • Medical Response
    • 7,000 COVID tests conducted
    • 1,122 people vaccinated (As of 4/12/21)
    • Only 57 positive COVID cases (as of 2/26/21)
  • Outcomes
    • 174 permanently housed participants
    • 80 participants set to exit into a new housing unit