People housed under Project Room Key in the Arcata Days Inn have to find a new place to stay

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ARCATA, Calif. (KIEM)- What started out as a good idea to help people get through the pandemic, has now turned into a crisis.

58 homeless and at-risk people were housed at the Days Inn in Arcata through a program called Project Room Key.

Humboldt County partnered with local organizations, including Arcata House Partnership, to provide help and food to the tenants under the program. The program was doing well, until the money ran out.

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“We were told that we were going to have to move out and these guys were supposed to give us housing and now all of a sudden we are out on the streets again like we were before,” said Walter Michaels, a program tenant.

Many of the tenants that have been at this inn for months, are now having to pick up and leave.

“It’s just ridiculous. I’m scared. I don’t want to go out there,” said Dorothy, a program tenant. “I have a week I can stay at my moms and that’s it.”  

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Arcata House has helped some people find shelter but for others, they will be back where they were before being placed at the hotel before the pandemic, out on the streets.

“We are now trying to get everyone to their destinations,” said Anjali Browning, Manager of Client Services for Arcata House Partnership. “There are a few people who are returning to the street, we have many that are going to our shelter or who have been offered shelter and declined and then we also have a number of people today going to permanent housing.”

The program was originally supposed to end in April, but the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors approved an extra $250,000 for Project Room key to extend the program until the end of June.

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So, Arcata House has been trying to figure out where these people could go but have had a hard time.

“There is a housing crisis in Humboldt, as with most of California,” said Browning. “So, honestly our biggest, our biggest challenge is available housing.”

We reached out to the Department of Health and Human Services for comment about this situation but have not heard back.