April 15, 2021

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Project Roomkey: Former Best Western hotel in Long Beach converted into interim housing for homeless individuals transitioning off the streets

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LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — Dozens of people in the Southland are doing something that hasn’t happened in a while: sleeping in their own place.

A former Best Western hotel in Long Beach has been converted into interim housing for more than 100 people – and changing their lives.

“Project Homekey, it’s what we haven’t done in the past. It’s what is the right thing to do. It’s the next step towards permanent housing,” said Yvette Ahlstrom, the VP of operations of Illumination Foundation.

Nearly a year ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $600 million in grant funding for the state’s Homekey program.

The 102 rooms at this former hotel will serve as temporary housing for people transitioning to permanent housing solutions in Long Beach.

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The Illumination Foundation, which is based in Orange, is helping operate the site. Rose Wolfrum is the program director.

“We have staff here 24/7 who are able to really be just general support to the participants who are residing here,” Wolfrum said.

People approved to stay here are 65 and older and/or have an underlying health condition that puts them in a high-risk category for COVID-19.

Services include daily meals, mental and physical health services, and transportation to essential appointments.

Wolfrum shared a success story about one man, who described his experience just two days into his stay.

“He really feels he’s just been able to take an exhale, right? He said, ‘I’ve slept more than I’ve slept in years, just because I had a place to lay my head.’ And that is really the dignity that everybody deserves,” Wolfrum said.

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