California’s big-city mayors call for $20 billion to fight homelessness – Press Enterprise


Mayors of California’s largest cities — together with a number of in Southern California — are calling on the governor and Legislature to commit $20 billion over five years to confront the daunting and pervasive downside of homelessness.

Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento acknowledged in a digital information convention Thursday, April 29, that the $4 billion a yr the mayors are in search of could be an enormous dedication.

“Effectively, it’s an enormous difficulty and we have now to have a proportional response to that difficulty,” Sarmiento mentioned.

Calling homelessness “one of many biggest challenges of our time,” Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson mentioned such a dedication would allow cities to “start to maneuver the needle … start to make a change.”

Amelia Matier, deputy press secretary for fast response in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s workplace, mentioned by electronic mail Thursday that the governor is weighing many proposals as he prepares to difficulty subsequent month a revised funds for the fiscal yr that begins July 1.

Matier wrote that Newsom intends to construct on final yr’s Homekey program that helped cities and counties create further housing for homeless individuals.

“This consists of bigger commitments of funding for municipalities to supply homeless housing past resort and motel conversion, in addition to extending the land use and allowing streamlining included within the Homekey program final yr,” she wrote.

The information convention mirrored a request that mayors — together with these in Anaheim, Lengthy Seaside, Riverside and Santa Ana — made in a letter earlier this month to state legislative leaders.

Democrats in each the state Assembly and Senate backed the proposal this month. Their priorities for subsequent yr and past embody a $20 billion, five-year funding to handle the homelessness disaster.

The mayors on Thursday recommended Sacramento may use federal stimulus cash and state surplus funds for that goal.

“This yr’s funds presents California with a once-in-a-generation alternative to dramatically scale back homelessness if we are able to muster the collective braveness and can to face up for our most susceptible neighbors,” mentioned San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Mayors mentioned the funding is required to considerably improve the dimensions of a wide selection of packages. They mentioned there’s a want for extra emergency shelter beds and everlasting housing. There may be additionally a must broaden companies akin to medical, psychological well being and drug habit remedy packages.

Housing has been a spotlight of packages lately. For instance, Riverside opened a village of 30 tiny homes in early 2020.

However, Lock Dawson mentioned, “It’s not simply getting individuals into beds.”

It’s additionally vital to fulfill the wants of homeless individuals, she mentioned.

“We all know we have now individuals affected by psychological sickness,” Lock Dawson mentioned. “We all know we have now individuals affected by drug habit. And we all know we have now individuals with bodily disabilities, people who find themselves simply down on their luck and wish a leg up and assist.”

Lock Dawson mentioned it’s also vital to assist people who find themselves susceptible to changing into homeless.

Riverside spokesman Phil Pitchford mentioned town budgeted $31 million for homeless packages throughout fiscal yr 2020-21.

“There are nonetheless too many homeless on our streets,” Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu mentioned in the course of the convention.

Some progress has been made, Sidhu mentioned beforehand, in an electronic mail, however there may be extra work to do.

Anaheim has labored with nonprofit teams such because the Salvation Military, different cities within the area and U.S. District Choose David O. Carter, who’s overseeing a 2018 lawsuit filed on behalf of a number of homeless Orange County residents.

Over the previous six years, town stood up two short-term shelters and two longer-term ones. Utilizing federal assist {dollars}, it lately deployed a full-time outreach crew of social staff who reply to some complaints as an alternative of armed, uniformed police.

Sidhu additionally famous the latest enterprise: a 72-unit condo complicated with assist companies that the Salvation Military will construct and function, with Anaheim’s housing authority facilitating bond debt for the challenge and funding coming from state, federal and personal sources.

Sidhu spoke towards the background of a photograph depicting the Salvation Military challenge, called Center of Hope.

The mayors took turns talking nearly whereas displaying images of housing for the homeless of their respective cities — all the pieces from tiny properties to modular housing to transformed lodges.

Sarmiento, Santa Ana’s mayor, for instance spoke in entrance of a photograph of Casa Querencia, a supportive housing challenge offering quite a lot of companies.

Twelve mayors from California’s 13 largest cities took half within the information convention. Mayor Robert Garcia of Lengthy Seaside was unable to due to a scheduling battle, spokesman James Ahumada mentioned, however he helps it and signed the letter to legislative leaders.

In a press release, Garcia cited the opening of Lengthy Seaside’s first municipal year-round shelter final yr and different initiatives.

“Fixing for the foundation causes of homelessness is a posh and monumental activity that requires extra from all of us — extra housing, extra psychological well being assist and extra constant, high quality companies,” Garcia mentioned.

Underscoring the problem, the state’s new Homeless Data Integration System exhibits that native businesses throughout California served 248,130 individuals in 2020. Of that complete, 91,626 individuals, or 37%, had been positioned in everlasting housing, 117,109 individuals, or 47%, continued to obtain companies or shelter however weren’t positioned in housing, and 39,395 individuals, or 16%, disengaged from companies and returned both to the road or unknown locations.

Workers author Alicia Robinson contributed to this report.


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