Funding For Homelessness Programs Was Requested By The California Budget Committee

Funding For Homelessness Programs Was Requested By The California Budget Committee

Government representatives and others pleaded before a California Senate committee on Thursday over the $1 billion in continued financing for initiatives aimed at ending homelessness; Governor Gavin Newsom left this amount out of his budget.

Over the past few years, the state’s HHAP program—homeless housing assistance and prevention—has disbursed about $4 billion to counties, towns, and other organizations. At a Senate budget subcommittee meeting on Thursday, the funds—which have been allocated to homeless and housing programs—were praised as crucial.

Nevertheless, despite the Legislature’s announcement in 2023 that it intended to have a round that would begin this year, Newsom’s proposed budget for the current year does not include funds for the program. The governor did say he will collaborate with Congress to give local governments cash to address homelessness.

Notwithstanding the Legislature’s 2023 declaration that a round would begin this year, Newsom’s proposed budget for the fiscal year does not include any funds for the program. In regards to giving local governments cash to address homelessness, the governor did say he would collaborate with lawmakers.

“This is an absolutely necessary investment,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg told the subcommittee. “Without this, the bottom drops out.”

In his city, 13 individuals become homeless for every 10 who leave, according to Steinberg. Sacramento’s program for housing assistance and prevention has made it possible to add more nightly shelter beds.

Other state programs don’t have the program’s flexibility. This is crucial because counties and cities have to approach homelessness differently.

The CEO of the California State Association of Counties, Graham Knaus, claims that Los Angeles County has increased the supply of supportive and affordable housing by utilizing program funds. The funds have been used by San Diego County to support individuals who were recently released from jail or who have nearly finished their terms.

This later program has about a 100% success rate after being used by roughly 100 people.

“That’s what we should be funding. Those things and many like it,” Knaus said, adding, “The key ingredient about this is flexibility.”

The flexibility of the program, according to Annalee Trujillo, director of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, has been important for her tribe. The state had set aside about $130 million for tribes to use before the program. But just $40 million was given distributed, with $6 million going to the tribes.

According to Trujillo, the state is ignorant of indigenous administrations and sovereignty. The funding for the homeless housing aid and prevention program was made available to tribal governments for any necessary uses.

The program’s multi-year duration and flexibility are crucial, according to Tamera Kohler, CEO of the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness. While the program has allowed San Diego County to, for example, bargain with landlords, federal money have constraints.

“HHAP is absolutely critical to fund shelter beds,” Kohler said.

Knaus made three suggestions to the subcommittee. He requested that the $1 billion in financing be included in the budget for the 2024–2025 fiscal year, that the success penalty be eliminated (i.e., that the state cease reducing payments when local governments witness a decrease in homelessness), and that a minimum amount be provided.

Republican state senator from Fair Oaks, Roger Niello, claimed that the program is the only one in the state that offers the flexibility that officials desire. He did, however, also draw attention to this year’s major budget problems facing the state.

“We have a horrible budget deficit and in my opinion it’s probably getting worse,” Niello said.

Late last year, the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that a number of issues, including tax returns filed later than usual, resulted in a significant shortfall in the budgets for the current and upcoming fiscal years. At now, the estimated amount of the budget gap is $73 million. Self-described as optimistic, Newsom has stated that the actual shortfall is closer to $38 billion.

The previous week, the Legislature reduced the deficit by almost $17 billion by deferring spending, borrowing, and taking back funds that had not yet been used.

The subcommittee meeting on Thursday was held around one week following the release of a report by the state auditor on California’s homelessness programs, which revealed that they had not been adequately monitored and assessed. In addition, the auditor claimed he lacked sufficient data for a comprehensive analysis.

Nearly $200 million in additional funding was revealed by Newsom on Thursday in an effort to help people move from homeless camps into homes. He also proposed tighter control over this kind of spending.