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FEMA to reimburse California hotels used to protect vulnerable populations during pandemic

FEMA to reimburse California hotels used to protect vulnerable populations during pandemic

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomGovernors call on Biden to back shift to zero-emission cars by 2035 NPR journalist discusses home affordability in California California Democrats weigh their recall options MORE (D) announced Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized reimbursements for hotels in the state that have been used to protect members of vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Newsom made the announcement in a letter to partners of Project Roomkey, an effort to secure hotel and motel rooms for vulnerable people experiencing homelessness to try to protect them and curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“This action serves as acknowledgement of the importance of efforts like Project Roomkey in protecting the most vulnerable Californians and validates all of your efforts to implement this first-in-the-nation program,” Newsom wrote.

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Project Roomkey has tapped into funding from the March CARES Act and funding from FEMA to shelter more than 22,300 people experiencing homelessness and those who are at highest risk of COVID-19, including people over 65 and people who have preexisting medical conditions. The move means that the effort will not have to submit requests every 30 days to reauthorize reimbursement.

The reimbursement policy also applies to other California initiatives such as California Healthcare Workers Program, which gives hotel rooms to doctors, nurses and other front-line health care workers for free or at reduced cost; Housing for the Harvest, which provides temporary isolation spaces for agricultural and farmworkers who either contract or are exposed to the virus; and Project Hope, which gives hotel rooms to newly-released inmates who need to isolate.

It was not immediately clear if FEMA was authorizing reimbursements for similar programs in other states. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

California has the largest homeless population out of any state in the U.S.