California awards nearly $200 million to cities and counties to tackle homeless encampments

Leticia Juarez Image
Friday, April 19, 2024
California awards nearly $200M to tackle homeless encampments
San Bernardino is among the cities and counties awarded multi-million dollar grants by California to address homelessness.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- California is partnering with local governments aligned with its goals to tackle homeless encampments by allocating $192 million in funding.

The Encampment Resolution Funds (ERF) will help support 20 projects across 17 communities, including the city of San Bernardino.

"We have a homeless crisis and we make up the largest number of unhoused in San Bernardino County, so this is huge for us," San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran said.

San Bernardino will receive $4.6 million in grant funding, which will focus on a 5.2-mile stretch of the Waterman Avenue corridor. The city estimates roughly 200 people live along the area in tent encampments.

"I give out food, I give out water, clothing, prayer, talk if I can," said Shirley Broussard, with Swarm Housing Assistance Cooperative. "Just talk, then I ask them what their name is. I drive away knowing their name."

Broussard is an advocate for the homeless, and so far has been disappointed with measures to help the unhoused off the streets. She points to open fields she says could be used to build a community center or tiny homes.

"Dogs running up and down this street - animal control would be here until the job is done, but humans are here every day sleeping here, rain or shine they're here," she said.

Housing is an issue and one the city is addressing. In January, San Bernardino celebrated a $35 million grant that will bring housing and services under one roof to help the homeless population in her city.

The city is partnering with Lutheran Social Services of Southern California to build the San Bernardino Wellness Campus on its property.

It will include 140 modular interim housing units, along with wrap around health and social services for the community.

But the latest round of funding will target the immediate needs of those living in encampments.

"People want to see these tents and encampments removed, but they want to see them removed in a compassionate and thoughtful way," Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

The goal is to move the 3,600 unhoused people into permanent and interim housing.

"We want to ensure that we have different types of funding that comes into this community, and we are very grateful that this is coming because we know it is going to address what the immediate needs that we have right now," said Karen Suarez with Uplift San Bernardino at the Making Hope Happen Foundation.

To accomplish the state's goals, Newsom said he will move 22 state employees from a housing enforcement unit to help cities and counties deliver on its promises to reduce homelessness, and warned of consequences - including legal action from the attorney general's office.

"This targeted approach is really to hold accountability, and that is what the governor is doing," Tran said.