California Govt. Gavin Newsom agreed earlier this month to release $1 billion in state homelessness funding, but only if local governments step up the aggressiveness of their plans to reduce the number of homeless people in the state. agree, his office said on Friday.
The Democratic governor was meeting with mayors and local officials after announcing two weeks ago that he would withhold the money until cities and counties came up with more robust plans. He called the presented plans “simply unacceptable” because they would collectively reduce the state’s homeless population by only 2% over the next four years.
“Everyone has to do better – cities, counties and states, included. We are all in this together,” he said in a Nov. 3 news release.
Newsom, who left for re-election this month, is on the hook for his second term to show a reduction in the growing number of homeless individuals, some of whom camp on city sidewalks and under highway underpasses, even That irks even the most politically moderate voters. Most populous state of the country.
The mayor and county officials — many of whom are Democrats — as well as low-income housing advocates pushed back against his effort to freeze the funding, saying it would be difficult to keep up with the money needed for shelter beds, outreach workers and other services. was unproductive. He pleaded with the governor for more direction – as well as continued funding to build on the guaranteed, more ambitious plans.
“This is the top issue in our state; This is the top issue for Californians. Budgets are about priorities, and I think we need to prioritize and address this as a crisis,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said Friday.
Addressing homelessness has been left to local governments in California for decades, but Newsom took office in 2019 and vowed to tackle an issue he said he understands best as the former mayor of San Francisco. Where there are camps of tents crowding the pavements and people in obvious mental health crisis. a common sight.
California had an estimated 161,000 homeless people in 2020, with that number expected to rise this year, a result of the state’s high cost of housing and historic under-building of homes. Advocates for the homeless say they can’t keep up and even though they find housing for some, many lose their homes.
The prospect of a separate funding stream for homelessness dimmed this week after state officials announced Wednesday that California is likely to run a $25 billion budget deficit next year after running historic surpluses.
The state’s 13 largest cities, 58 counties and 44 groups of homeless service providers submitted 75 applications detailing their plans to spend $1 billion in the third round of disbursements.
An additional $1 billion is on the table, said Erin Mellon, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, but Newsom won’t release that money until those governments pledge “to be more aggressive across the board.” The plans are due in two weeks.
Applicants must also agree to implement best practices where possible, including more efficient ways of streamlining the way people get assistance and into housing and the creation of more housing for poor and very poor households.
California cities and counties have been reluctant to build more housing, including affordable housing, with many saying they don’t want the congestion and neighborhood changes that come with more people.
The Newsom administration is also cracking down on local governments that won’t build more, launching investigations and filing lawsuits to force production down.