Capitol Reporter Affordable-home and homelessness policy news from the halls of the Capitol
As the New Year approaches, Housing California and its allies across the state are rapidly making plans to build on this year’s successes. We’ve made big strides, but we can do even better. When we look across the landscape, we see well-intentioned efforts that don’t effectively use taxpayer dollars. State agencies that don’t coordinate with each other. City and county governments that fund ineffective solutions, like arresting those experiencing homelessness.
The result: in 2020, homelessness is expected to increase even further as the cost of housing continues to rise. We need to change course NOW.
That’s why we’re joining more than 20 organizations to request $1.5 billion be allocated by the Legislature and Governor Newsom to fund evidence-based solutions to homelessness.
This approach is different than the past: solutions will be based on best practices, through a structure that ensures coordination, innovation and responsibility. We’ll also make existing state programs more effective through collaboration which will help prevent more people from falling into homelessness, and help those without shelter find homes.
But in order to win this funding, we need an even bigger show of support. This week we’re sending a letter to key legislators and Governor Newsom to introduce our request. If we have your support, we’ll turn heads and raise eyebrows—and that will help our proposal be taken seriously and be granted the swift action it deserves.
Dear Governor Newsom, Senator Mitchell, and Assemblymember Ting:
Building on efforts in the last two sessions to address homelessness, we urge you to take leadership and focus on putting California on a sustainable, coordinated, long-term strategic path toward homeless solutions. Our organizations, committed to ending homelessness in California, request a one-time budget allocation of $1.5 billion to fund evidence-based solutions to homelessness, in tandem with bill language that restructures California’s approach to serving this population going forward.
Homelessness is expected to increase sharply throughout the state, thanks to severe increases in the cost of housing: 55,000 Los Angeles residents became newly homeless between January 2018 and 2019; Kern County reported a 50% jump in homelessness; and Alameda County, a 43% increase. While homelessness affects all groups, 40 percent of our homeless population is African-American, though only 6.5% of Californians are African-American, reflecting the inequity of past housing, justice, health care, child welfare, and siting policies, inequities we must address to make headway in solving homelessness.
California also needs investment to match need, along with structural changes that will coordinate state funding and promote accountability among state and local agencies. With past investment in evidence-based solutions, California has generated the largest declines in family and veteran homelessness in the U.S. These outcomes prove that when resources are scaled to meet need and combined with investment in evidence-based practices, we can substantially reduce homelessness.
Tapping into what we know works, we offer a budget proposal that would—
· Commit one-time funding of $1.5 billion in state General Funds toward evidence-based solutions through a structure that promotes regional collaboration, innovation, and accountability; · Make existing state programs more effective by coordinating funding, preventing people from falling into homelessness from state-funded institutional settings, and applying a single set of standards and a universal application; and · Create the structure for future funding.
We are attaching a concept paper that identifies how funds should be allocated. For more information on these allocations, please contact Sharon Rapport at the Corporation for Supportive Housing (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Chris Martin at Housing California (email@example.com). Sharon and Chris will be reaching out to your offices to answer questions.
With record numbers of Californians identifying homelessness as their top concern, and more Californians falling into homelessness than ever before, we look forward to working with you to make meaningful investments, clarify a state leadership structure, and ensure funding has the greatest impact. Thank you for your commitment to supporting solutions to homelessness.