Housing Our Most Vulnerable Populations with Project Homekey
Written November 20, 2020
You might be wondering why this strange image is in our newsletter. When it comes to the topic of those experiencing homelessness, I struggle to write out how I feel. I have so much to say and sometimes my emotions get the better of me. So I decided to lead with this image.
As silly and simplistic as this image is, I’ve seen it shared around my friends and colleagues. The cold recently set in and California has hundreds of thousands of unsheltered people who are exposed to the routine elements, as well as COVID-19. In San Mateo County, one of the wealthiest counties in America, we also struggle to provide shelter for those experiencing homelessness.
This is why I want to thoroughly thank the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors for their compassion and bravery approving two “Project Homekey” proposals in Redwood City, to provide shelter to those experiencing homelessness.
Project Homekey is an initiative by the State to rapidly turn hotels into homes for our most vulnerable populations. One of the things the image above undersells, however, is the process of creating homes and shelter, which can be difficult, expensive, and sometimes unpopular. The speed of Project Homekey is unprecedented, and that reflects back to the County on their incredible efforts to turn land, money and political will into homes. We know permanent, supportive and transitional housing is very much needed in our County, so I seriously can’t overstate how great an opportunity this is. For more info about Project Homekey in San Mateo, check out this Daily Journal article.
At the Grand Opening of Colma’s Veteran’s Village, I vividly remember someone describing the perceived restoration of their humanity and the dignity of what a home provides. I’ve thought about that moment a lot recently and couldn’t help but choke up a bit when these proposals were passed.
The longer I work at the Housing Leadership Council, the more often I tend to think about our unhoused populations as the weather shifts. The summer heat, wildfire smoke, the winter cold are all increasing as the effects of climate change become worse (which we could combat by creating more homes close to transit). Now, I think of these proposals and the manifestation of the phrase “Housing is Healthcare.”
Alex Melendrez, Digital Organizer
(Article originally published in Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County’s November, 20, 2020 Newsletter)