To Project Roomkey’s architects, the program was a no-brainer. Thousands of hotel rooms were empty because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And there were thousands of people who lacked homes and seemed especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. The plan to put the people in the empty rooms and pay the hotel owners seemed to solve two problems at once.
Sounds easy, right? But in practice, not so much. The program helped some people but certainly not everyone.
Today we examine Project Roomkey — its promises, achievements, shortcomings and future. We talk to L.A. Times reporters Benjamin Oreskes and Doug Smith, who have covered the program from the start. We also talk to Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, the head of a nonprofit that helps people transition out of homelessness.
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