Mayors from California’s 13 largest cities met yesterday with the governor and legislative leaders to advocate for additional state resources in the 2019 budget to address the ongoing homelessness crisis. The mayors highlighted the success of the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP), an allocation of $500 million – of which $150 million went directly to cities with a population of 300,000 or more – that is on track to produce more than 4,000 new shelter beds across the state.
“The City of Santa Ana is grateful to the State of California for the Homeless Emergency Aid Program block grant, that we collectively advocated to come to fruition last year through a strong coalition of Big City Mayors,” said Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido. “We have successfully expanded our joint efforts through the support of two additional cities, intensifying the need of funding for the future to address the national crisis of homelessness. We are excited that Governor Newsom had made funding homelessness a priority as we see the direct result of state funding creating positive change in our community.”
California’s homeless population now stands at 134,278, according to 2017 statewide counts – an increase of 16% from 2015. Half of all the country’s homeless are in California; nearly half of California’s homeless are in the state’s 13 largest cities.
“State and local partnerships are critical to tackling issues as big as our homeless crisis,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), who helped the Big City Mayors secure HEAP funding in the 2018-2019 state budget. “Last year, California’s significant investment in emergency assistance enabled cities to quickly ramp up the number of beds and services available in the hardest hit communities. But we need to do more to truly solve this problem. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to determine how we can keep moving people off the streets and into affordable housing.”
Across the state, cities have utilized HEAP funds to dramatically increase capacity for low-barrier shelters, Navigation Centers, Bridge Housing, rental subsidies, and other supportive services to get traditionally hard-to-serve people into housing. The mayors highlighted how quickly the state was able to disburse funds to local governments, allocating resources according to need as demonstrated by 2017 PIT Counts, and the flexibility of what resources could be spent on as critical components of the program’s success. That information is now available in a report on HEAP funding allocation released by Big City Mayors yesterday.