Bass, other California mayors visit Sacramento seeking funding to tackle homelessness

Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Mayors meet with Newsom, seek more funding for homeless services
L.A. Mayor Karen Bass and several other California mayors visited Sacramento to urge the state for more funding to address homelessness.

SACREMENTO, Calif. (KABC) -- Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and other members of the California Big City Mayors Coalition, chaired by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, visited Sacramento Tuesday to urge Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders to make permanent its foremost program to fund homelessness services across the state.

The mayors advocated for more funding for the state's Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention grant program, or HHAP.

"The shelters and service programs that big cities up and down California have created with local and state dollars are getting people off the street and connected to care," Gloria said after the meeting in Sacramento. "We need to protect the progress we've made through continued state investment.

"We have shown urgency in putting state funding to work to increase emergency shelter, bring people indoors and put them on a path to permanent housing," he said. "We can build on this success, but cities need the certainty that a commitment to ongoing state funding will bring."

The 13 members of the Big City Mayors also urged state leaders to restore cuts to the Regional Early Action Planning 2.0 grants, which "provide state funding to local governments to update plans and create tens of thousands of new housing opportunities to tackle California's housing-affordability crisis," a statement from Gloria's office read.

The mayors feel their programs have resulted in people finding shelter and housing.

"Our message is simple to the governor and legislators. If you provide the funding, we will provide the results," Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said alongside other mayors.

Since 2018, California has provided direct grants to local governments for homelessness programs. On Tuesday, the mayors were expected to discuss what their respective cities have achieved with the resources, as well as what needs to be done to address encampments and decrease homelessness.

Over the past five years, the state has spent $24 billion to address the homelessness crisis. According to one national report, the homeless population has increased by 6% from 2022 to 2023.

Tuesday's meeting comes after Bass proposed a $12.8 billion city budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year -- a decrease from this fiscal year's $242 million spending plan.

The proposed budget would allocate $185 million to Bass' cornerstone program, Inside Safe, a decrease of $65 million from this fiscal year.

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Of this funding, about $70 million would be used to pay for motel rooms and other interim housing, while another $60 million would cover social- services at these sites, including health care, meals, case management, housing navigation and substance-use programs. About $28 million would be allocated for permanent housing and time-limited subsidies, and $24 million for housing acquisition.

Bass also proposed $2 million to expand street medicine teams and continue providing medical visits to people experiencing homelessness. Her office noted that more than 6,000 medical exams were conducted by these street teams this fiscal year.

Another $3 million would support the Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise program, known as LA Rise, which provides subsidized job opportunities for unhoused people. An additional $4.1 million would be spent on mobile hygiene centers. About $17 million would be spent on FamilySource Centers, which help families at-risk of falling into homelessness.

Affordable-housing efforts would receive $4.4 million from state grants, with plans to expedite processes for mixed-income residential projects with on-site affordable units. City officials are looking to expand homelessness prevention programs by leveraging more Measure ULA dollars from $150 million to more than $400 million. Passed by LA voters in 2022, Measure ULA, known as the "Mansion Tax," is a special tax on property sales exceeding $5 million.

City News Service contributed to this report.