- Mayors of California’s 11 Largest Cities Calling on State Leaders to Use Portion of Budget Surplus for Homeless Programs & Services
Sacramento, CA – Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer joined the mayors of the other 10 largest cities in California and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers at the Capitol to introduce AB 3171 – which would allocate $1.5 billion, or 25 percent of the state’s $6.1 billion budget surplus, to help cities address the growing homeless crisis.
State Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) will champion the effort in their respective houses.
“Homelessness is not just an issue. It is the most pressing issue facing California cities today,” Mayor Faulconer said. “Cities are responding to this crisis with more local resources and programs, and we need support from our partners in the Capitol too. We are asking State leaders to help us make a real difference on our streets.”
California’s homeless population has seen year-to-year increases of 13 percent in 2016 and nearly 14 percent in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In response to the surge, cities across the state have utilized their general fund resources and local voter-passed revenue measures to provide housing, shelter, supportive services and outreach to people experiencing homelessness. Despite these efforts, substantial assistance from the State is needed to address the magnitude and complexity of the statewide homelessness issue.
“Homelessness is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis, but it is also the single greatest threat to the economic prosperity, opportunity and growth our cities are fighting for,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “We are on the front lines of providing compassionate and effective solutions to this issue, and we request that our state partners make alleviating homelessness in our cities an even greater priority.”
The City of San Diego has taken several actions to tackle homelessness at the local level, including:
- Helping more than 1,000 homeless veterans transition to permanent housing through the “Housing Our Heroes” campaign – a partnership with the San Diego Housing Commission.
- Opening three new Bridge Shelters with a total of 700 beds and supportive services, including job training, mental health and substance abuse counseling, health care and housing navigators to assist individuals with finding a place to live.
- Expanding a Safe Parking program, providing individuals living in their cars a safe place to park at night, with supportive services.
- Opening a Transitional Camp Area that helped 24 families with 57 children move into permanent homes before the camp closed in December.
- Moving forward this spring with plans to open a Housing Navigation Center – a one-stop shop where homeless individuals can be connected to the most appropriate supportive services and housing solutions based on their specific circumstances.
- Increasing waste abatement and sanitation efforts downtown, in the riverbeds and in communities most impacted by homelessness.
AB 3171 calls for one-time funds to be allocated to cities on a matching basis, resulting in over $3 billion in collective State and local funds to meaningfully address one of the most intractable issues facing cities.
“Last year, I fought to get billions appropriated in our state budget to fight homelessness across California, but we have so much more work to do,” said Assemblymember Ting, who is also Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. “Homelessness is a state crisis, but we cannot do it alone. This year, we need to identify resources to partner with cities to build more shelters and augment additional services so we can get people off our streets and into shelter as fast as possible.”
The group of Big 11 mayors sent a letter to legislative leaders earlier this month, urging them to set aside part of the budget surplus to help boost services to homeless individuals. The group is planning to lobby lawmakers next month to ensure the passage of AB 3171.
“The Legislature has confronted the crisis of homelessness with new funding for supportive housing and by helping people overcome their barriers to finding homes,” said Senator Lara. “Despite all of our efforts, homelessness is on the rise, and we need to partner with local leaders who are coming up with humane and creative solutions.”
The California Big 11 Mayors is a bipartisan group comprised of the most populous cities in the state – Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Long Beach, Sacramento, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim and Santa Ana.