The city of Los Angeles has not received millions of dollars in federal aid it may be owed to house homeless people in hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic because, nearly a year into the crisis, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration hasn’t asked for the money yet.
Local, state and federal officials say the city hasn’t requested reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for portions of the estimated $59 million it has spent on Project Roomkey, which has been sheltering homeless people in hotel rooms since shortly after the pandemic began last year. The city has sharply scaled back the hotel program in recent months, leading advocates and lawyers for the homeless to say the Garcetti administration is showing a lack of political will to protect some of L.A.’s most vulnerable residents.
“There is federal money on the table — the literal FEMA response the mayor has been begging for, and yet the city has found excuse after excuse not to take advantage of it,” said Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles attorney Shayla Myers.
“If this is true, it is really disturbing and inexcusable,” said Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council, who has urged the city to expand the hotel program.
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