Publication Date

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Urban and Regional Planning

First Advisor

Frances Edwards


Homelessness, Project Roomkey, Covid-19


During the early months of 2020, the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) had a significant impact on the homeless population. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community Planning and Development defines a homeless person as someone who "lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence" (Henry, et al., 2020, page 2). According to a report conducted by Culhane et al. (2020), the homeless population has a higher chance of being infected by COVID-19 than the general population. Issues such as inadequate access to sanitation or proper hygiene, and the inability to isolate, especially in a congregate shelter, were some of the reasons homeless individuals have a greater risk of being hospitalized and dying of highly contagious diseases like COVID-19 (Culhane et al., 2020).
On March 4, 2022, Governor Newsom signed an Executive Order N-33-20, declaring the State of Emergency Order in the State of California. The governor encouraged the public to follow directives from the California Public Health Department requiring everyone to shelter in place to slow the spread of the disease (CDSS, 2020d). However, homeless people had nowhere to shelter in place except congregate-care facilities, which have the potential to spread the virus further. Therefore, in the same month, the State of California established the Project Roomkey program to provide unhoused individuals, especially those who were in at-risk categories, the ability to shelter in place in non-congregate shelters, such as hotels and trailers. (Office of the Governor, 2020).
The purpose of this study was to conduct an outcome evaluation of the Project Roomkey program provided in three of the Bay Area's largest counties: Santa Clara County, San Francisco County and Alameda County. This study examined the problem of homelessness during COVID-19 pandemic, described the implementation of Project Roomkey displayed in the Findings, and analyzed the effectiveness of the program based on the data in the Analysis section.