The Cities of Vallejo and Benicia Partner to Provide Homeless Individuals Shelter During Pandemic
In an effort to reduce coronavirus transmission, the cities of Vallejo and Benicia collaborated to secure hotel and motel rooms for vulnerable people experiencing homelessness in their area, providing shelter and wraparound services to 125 residents so far through the Vallejo/Benicia Project Roomkey
The cities partnered with the Hampton Inn in May, securing more than 100 rooms for residents, and in June, secured an additional 77 rooms at the Rodeway Inn for participants who tested positive for COVID-19, or who were suspected to be positive.
In partnership with other community organizations, Vallejo and Benicia committed to housing at-risk homeless individuals for 60 days with 24-hour private security, hygiene items, food delivery, daily health and wellness checks (including COVID-19 testing), case management, and administrative program support from city liaisons, county social services case workers, physicians/nursing students, and local nonprofits. Participants who tested negative for COVID-19 may leave the hotel for essential trips such as traveling to the grocery store or pharmacy.
“As a city, we are focused on promoting the health and safety of the entire Vallejo community during the COVID-19 health crisis, particularly those who are most vulnerable,” said City Manager Greg Nyhoff. “Embracing the Project Roomkey initiative has enabled us to address the needs of homeless individuals during this pandemic, while protecting the capacity of our local hospitals and first responders. The initiative also fits within the context of our larger efforts to help members of our community conquer homelessness and find more permanent housing solutions.”
Community partners identified participants through working with local hospitals and Resource Connect Solano, an organization committed to providing housing and supportive resources for people in Solano County who are experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. Individuals who are over the age of 60 or who had underlying health conditions were prioritized for entry in the program.
Staff members also worked with each individual to help map out a transition plan, which focused on keeping each participant connected to services, and finding a path to a more permanent housing solution.
The Vallejo/Benecia initiative was made possible by the statewide Project Roomkey
program, which launched in April, allowing local governments to access state administrative support, a $150 million pool of state funding and up to 75 percent reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for securing these rooms and providing wraparound services. Local governments are responsible for implementing the details of the program, including identifying participants and engaging community partners.
“Seeing the need in our community, Vallejo took a proactive approach to deliver services that have largely been left to the county in other areas,” Nyhoff said. “I am proud of our city and our tireless staff for seizing this opportunity to provide resources to the most vulnerable among us.”
For many cities, the Project Roomkey initiative ended June 30, but the City of Vallejo has extend the program to July 30. The city is currently working with Solano County to extend the program through August, or longer.
Assistant City Manager Anne Cardwell said, “Our intention is to keep this program going strong for as long as possible as we transition into the next phase of the program, Homekey
. Typically, a project like this would take years to implement, and it has been amazing to see so many individuals and organizations truly rise to the occasion. Vallejo is proud to be a leader in this initiative.”
For more information, please visit the City of Vallejo Project Room Key webpage
This story was featured in the CA Cities Advocate Newsletter on July 29, 2020.