SACRAMENTO (KGET) – Gov. Gavin Newsom today announced the first round of awards for the state’s new homeless housing program Homekey, including nearly $15 million for Kern County. 

The $600 million program provides funding to several cities and counties in the state to purchase and rehabilitate housing – including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties – and convert them into permanent, long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.

Kern County’s funding will be used to acquire four sites totaling 151 units for permanent supportive housing. This project will help address a severe shortage of housing for people with vouchers who are currently unable to find housing, according to the state. 

A total of nearly $76.5 million was awarded by the Department of Housing and Community Development to seven jurisdictions for 10 projects, totaling 579 units. Other awardees include San Jose, El Centro as well as Contra Costa and Mendocino counties.

“We are realizing our dream of helping local jurisdictions acquire thousands of motel rooms and convert them into housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness,” Gov. Newsom said. “Homekey is the first effort of its kind in the nation and is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect the most vulnerable people in our state.”

Counties that received the funding must complete their purchases before the end of the year, according to the state.