Gov. Newsom announces $200M in funding for Homekey project to help California's homeless

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $200 million in new funding for the state's Project Homekey initiative, which aims to convert hotels, motels, and other buildings into housing for the homeless.

Newsom toured the Bernal Monterey Emergency Interim Housing Community Friday afternoon, a new housing facility in San Jose, the first of three planned to bring more than 300 units to the city.

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"We are not walking away from our commitment, we're not taking our eye off the ball at all, and we are weathering the current economic storm, and we're doing more than we have ever done in the history of this state," Newsom said.

Near the intersection of Monterey and Bernal, more than 70 supportive housing units are now open to serve some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

It's a project made possible by state and local funding.

VIDEO: Gov. Newsom speaks from new housing site for the homeless in San Jose
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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday an additional $200 million for California's Homekey project, which intends to combat the state's homeless crisis by giving cities and counties the tools to create more permanent housing.

"We're trying to think differently about this challenge and these three projects offer us alternative, and we're going to need a lot of alternatives, we're going to need a lot of tools in this toolbox to combat homelessness," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who also spoke at Friday's event.

The Homekey project followed the state's Roomkey program, which converted hotel and motel rooms into housing for the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 22,200 Californians were served by Roomkey in just a matter of six months, Newsom said.

In July, when Homekey was launched, the governor's office said it would allow counties and cities "to purchase and rehabilitate housing including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings, and other types of innovative housing, and
convert them into permanent, long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness."

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In July, the state rolled out the Homekey project with $600 million dedicated to the initiative.

Friday's announcement brings to the project's budget to $800 million.

"This is about creating opportunities for people to transition," Newsom said.

During Friday's event the governor said homelessness and housing unaffordability were California's "preexisting conditions" prior to COVID-19.

"I'm not naive about the magnitude of the challenge that pre-existed this crisis, nor am I naive about the magnitude of the challenge that's in front of us as it relates to a recession," he said.

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"We see what's happening to this state," Newsom went on to say.

In terms of tackling homelessness, the governor said the strategy needs to be individualized.

"This is about real people, real lives," he said.

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ABC7's Phil Matier has been covering and going into San Francisco's Tenderloin District for decades and he's never seen it in the state it was on Friday.

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