Project Roomkey (PRK) was launched in Sacramento County in April 2020 in response to the growing concern of vulnerability to COVID-19 our unhoused population was facing. PRK was introduced as a statewide solution to an emergency situation and the County, City of Sacramento and Sacramento Steps Forward pooled their resources to bring it to fruition.
The program was intended to be short-term, to allow for the COVID-19 virus to run its course and then ramp down the sheltering efforts as community efforts lessened. As we now know, the program has been running for nearly two years and has served more than 2,000 people– having provided isolation for persons who contracted the virus and private units for people to safely shelter in place. As a result, of these efforts, hundreds of people have exited to stable and safe locations.
Due to the unexpected duration of COVID response, state and federal dollars were made available for use to extend local PRK efforts. With state and federal funding running out, the threat of COVID-19 waning due to increased vaccination rates and lower transmission rates, Sacramento County and its many partners are ramping down the prevention and isolation units and working closely with community providers to transition PRK participants into long-term housing solutions.
The PRK program was never intended as a long-term solution to homelessness and is not a sustainable sheltering model as the program is incredibly expensive – more than $4000 per person a month, and relies on resources that were only available due to the community-wide shutdown. Hotels that offered up their space need to resume their place in tourism, and Goodwill employees reimagined as shelter staff need to return to their chosen field of work.
Project Room Key by the numbers (Through January 2022)
- Total sheltered: 2,051
- Total exited to stable housing: 425
- Total exited to temporary housing or emergency housing: 361
- Still in PRK motels: 335
- Average length of stay: 7.5 months
- 88% have been there for more than a month
- 63% have been there more than 3 months
- 27% have been there over 6 months
- 21% have been there over a year
PRK Program ends at La Quinta
The PRK program at La Quinta closed on March 15 and all participants were provided shelter or housing options; with many having received many options over the course of their stay. While the County has taken the lead on managing operations and funding the shelter components, re-housing involves many public and private partners.
Over the last month, housing efforts have intensified across PRK to ensure connectivity to community-based programs that will carry them well beyond their time at PRK. With the closure of the first site, County staff and partners have ensured all participants had a safe place to transition to. At the February presentation of the ramp-down plan there were 121 participants at La Quinta, of those:
- 55 participants have moved to the two remaining PRK motels
- 53 participants will receive 21-day motel vouchers (which will be extended when housing has been identified and participants have continued to work on next steps with their community-based housing provider)
- 6 have moved into housing
- 2 chose to exit voluntarily
- 5 were exited for egregious program rule violations
Federal reimbursement funding extension
DHA was recently informed that FEMA’s non-congregate shelter reimbursement will be extended until June 30, 2022 (formally scheduled to end March 31, 2022), and the CA Department of Social Services has also confirmed that Counties can request additional Emergency Solutions Grant funding for continued PRK efforts. As such, DHA will be reevaluating the closure dates of the final two motel locations in concert with our partners from the City, Sacramento Steps Forward and SHRA, who provide critical re-housing supports for those in PRK, and will determine how best to use the funding options now accessible for this purpose.
Shelters and housing programs
The programs, services and funding offered through the County of Sacramento is dynamic, but below is a partial list of the programs the County funds to help shelter, house and care for our community members experiencing homelessness. The programs are often a collaboration between many County departments, including Human Assistance; Health Services; and Child, Family and Adult Services.
Sheltering (Capacity per night)
- Emergency Family Shelters: 40 families
- Mather Interim Shelter: 140 individuals
- North A Street Shelter: 80 adults
- Scattered Site Shelters: 115 people
- Domestic Violence Shelter: 162 women/children
Transitional Housing (Capacity per night)
- Adolfo Transitional Housing for Foster Youth: 68 youth households
- Mather Family Transitional Housing: 25 families
- Youth Transitional Housing: 12 Youth
Permanent Housing (Yearly Capacity)
- Flexible Housing Program: 300 households
- Flexible Supportive Rehousing: 250 households
- MHSA Built Permanent Supportive Housing Units: 221 households
For a full picture of county-funded homeless outreach, shelter and housing services, as well as mental health and addiction services, review our Homeless Program Matrix