As the region looks to make strides against the COVID-19 pandemic, there was some good financial news at the state level as well.
Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statement commending the Biden-Harris Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for extending the federal cost share to now fully reimburse California and other states for emergency relief programs and National Guard personnel deployments dating back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In guidance issued previously and further clarified by federal leaders in recent days, it is now the policy of the Biden-Harris Administration to provide state and local governments reimbursement for emergency costs for FEMA-eligible services – including the cost of National Guard personnel mobilization, the purchase of personal protective equipment, emergency feeding programs and sheltering at-risk populations – at a 100 percent rate dating back to January 2020.
“Through the leadership of President Biden and his Administration, this change will allow our state to deliver lifesaving services during the ongoing pandemic. These actions also provide direct relief to local government partners working on the front lines of this pandemic,” said Governor Newsom.
Programs eligible for full reimbursement under this new policy include: sheltering to protect unhoused Californians, including Project Roomkey; the purchase of personal protective equipment; Great Plates Delivered, which provides meals to seniors; National Guard deployments to support vaccination efforts and food banks; the California Healthcare Workers Program, which provides hotel rooms to doctors, nurses and other critical front-line health care workers for free or at a discount; Housing for the Harvest, which provides safe, temporary isolation spaces for agricultural and farmworkers who test positive or were exposed to the virus; and Project Hope, which provides hotel accommodations to people released from state prison who have a need to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19 exposure or positive status.
In particular, Governor Newsom emphasized the lasting impact this action will have on housing California’s most vulnerable populations.
“On behalf of the 23,000 people experiencing homelessness who have benefited from Project Roomkey in California since April of last year, I say thank you President Biden. Your Administration’s decision to fund this pandemic response – meant to protect the most vulnerable homeless Californians from COVID-19 – has saved countless lives,” Newsom said. “Our city and county partners – the front lines of our state’s COVID response – stepped up when the pandemic hit. They secured more than 16,000 hotel and motel rooms to shelter the most vulnerable homeless, and they continue this heroic work day in and day out. Thanks in part to productive discussions between our state and the Biden Administration in recent days, these local leaders now can have full confidence that 100 percent of eligible Project Roomkey costs will be reimbursed, retroactive to the beginning of this pandemic and through at least September of this year.”