26-foot trailers

Ten 26-foot trailers sit on the federal trust land of the Wilton Rancheria in Elk Grove on May 12.

The site of Wilton Rancheria’s proposed $500 million casino-resort has a new look. Ten trailers were placed on the site near Highway 99 and Kammerer Road.

These 26-foot travel trailers are part of the state’s Project Roomkey, which provides housing for extremely vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness, in an attempt to help flatten the curve of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and preserve hospital capacity.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the launching of this program last month, noting that California became the first state to secure Federal Emergency Management Agency approval to provide safe isolation capacity for tens of thousands of people experiencing homelessness, to protect them from COVID-19.

As part of this program, 1,305 trailers, including the ones on the Wilton Rancheria property, have been or are being distributed throughout the state.

Newsom on May 12 noted in his press conference that Project Roomkey reached another milestone.

“We, today, passed the threshold, over 15,000 rooms now procured as Project Roomkey,” he said.

Wilton Rancheria Chairman Raymond “Chuckie” Hitchcock told Herburger staff how the tribe became involved with this project.

“At the beginning of April, there was an announcement of Project Roomkey initiated by the state of California, Gov. Newsom put in place that was run by the Department of Social Services in conjunction with California Office of Emergency Services,” he said. “We had some tribal members who were at risk in the community and we had no other resources to help them out, so we reached out, because they were also allowing tribes to participate in Project Roomkey.”

Hitchcock noted that arrangements were made during the last week of April for the tribe to participate in the program. The trailers were delivered to the tribe’s property on April 30 and May 1.

Hitchcock added that two of the trailers are currently being used to benefit some of the tribal members who are classified as “at-risk.”

He further explained how the trailers would be used.

“(The trailers will) help assist our tribal members who are at-risk, on the verge of homelessness, either social distancing, trying to self-quarantine, if necessary, from somebody else that may be infected and/or health care workers who are self-quarantining just because of the nature of their jobs,” the chairman said.

Hitchcock expressed appreciation for Project Roomkey.

“It’s been a real blessing and we have a big, huge kudos and thanks to Gov. Newsom and his Project Roomkey initiative to help assist the tribe for a temporary shelter for some of our at-risk tribal membership,” he said.