SANTA ANA (CNS) - The Orange County Board of Supervisors today approved a plan to try to buy up to eight hotels being used or under consideration to house transients sickened with COVID-19 or at risk of infection.
The board unanimously approved spending up to $400,800 in escrow deposit fees that are refundable. Now county officials are authorized to negotiate the purchase of the properties being used in Project Homekey, which provides rooms for transients to quarantine in when they test positive for COVID-19 or are at a high risk of serious illness or death if they get infected.
The county is currently leasing five hotels under Project Roomkey, a state program funded in part by the federal government.
The board approved a resolution July 28 to apply for up to more than $60 million from Project Homekey.
Several speakers at the board meeting criticized the move as they opposed housing transients near schools and homes. Some were concerned transients would be forced into participating.
Supervisor Andrew Do, the vice chairman of the board, however, pointed out that the hotels under use have already been approved by the cities where they are located.
Do called on Dylan Wright, the county's director of community resources, to explain that the program is entirely voluntary for the homeless.
“It comes with full wrap-around services so there's full support of the individuals living there,'' Wright said as he explained the goal of the program is to use it as a step toward getting transients into permanent housing.
Supervisor Lisa Bartlett earlier this year suggested looking into buying the hotels as a way to save money in the long run. When the county earlier leased a motel in Anaheim to house transients as part of an effort to clear out an encampment along the Santa Ana riverbed, the county got stuck with a multimillion-dollar bill to rehabilitate the motel.
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