Seeking largest allocation of funds in the country
SAN JOSÉ, CA – The Big City Mayors (BCM), a coalition of the mayors from California’s 13 largest cities, came together virtually to ask the Governor and Legislative Leadership to include a historic $4 billion per year, multi-year investment, for a total of $20 billion, in the state budget to permanently house nearly every Californian who entered a homeless shelter in 2020. With the combination of the $26 billion California received from the American Rescue Plan, and the state’s record surplus, the coalition sees a unique opportunity to measurably impact the homelessness crisis in California.
This would become the largest allocation of funds dedicated to fighting the homelessness crisis in United States history and could build over 100,000 homes for unhoused residents in California. The state is home to more than 25 percent of the nation’s unhoused residents.
“Our bipartisan coalition of large-city mayors know too well the urgency of addressing the homelessness that afflicts 161,000 of our fellow Californians,” said San José Mayor and BCM Chair, Sam Liccardo. “This year’s budget provides California with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to dramatically reduce homelessness –if we can muster the collective courage to stand up for our most vulnerable neighbors.”
In early April, the BCM sent a letter to California State leadership including State Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Speaker Anthony Rendon, and Budget Committee Chairs Senator Nancy Skinner and State Assemblymember Phil Ting, outlining the desperate need for an ongoing source of funding for building new housing. The $4 billion per year, multi-year request came from the average cost of a Project Homekey unit at $148,000. Mayors continue to utilize HEAP and HHAP funding, previous one-time State funding allocations, to build prefabricated dorms, modular housing, tiny homes, and shelters more cost-effectively with state and local dollars.
“California has an opportunity in this moment to rise to the challenge of eliminating unsheltered homelessness. Our state has unprecedented resources, and our communities have the will to act. It is crucial that we not only sustain our momentum this year but create an ongoing funding stream that allows us to build the beds, roofs and safe spaces needed to bring people indoors over a sustained period of years. This is the only way we will make a visible difference in lessening the number of people suffering on our streets and the distress that growing tent encampments have caused in our neighborhoods.”Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento
“We appreciate the unprecedented scale of this financial commitment, one appropriate to the unprecedented-and growing-scale of this massive crisis, one that will define our generation’s collective legacy. We urge flexible funding commensurate with our monumental task ahead – and we thank you for your leadership and continued partnership,” the mayors wrote.
The BCM continues to work closely with the Governor’s office and State Legislature to address the housing and homelessness crisis and expressed their continued commitment to existing emergency interim housing operations along with supportive services that would not be possible without state assistance. This balanced allocation will help move unhoused residents off the streets while also sustaining existing programs to keep them housed.
Homelessness continues to become increasingly desperate in California. The state’s newly launched Homeless Data Integration System allows cities to better understand the ever-changing nature of homelessness services throughout the state. Of the 248,130 people local providers reported serving in 2020: 91,626 people (37%) moved into permanent housing, and 117,109 people (47%) remained actively engaged in services or shelter but were not yet permanently housed, underscoring the need for housing in California.
In 2020, more than 32,000 people received homelessness prevention assistance, more than double the number of people served in 2017. Of those who accessed services, 41 percent reported a disabling condition, 9 percent were veterans, 17 percent reported experiences with domestic violence, and 22 percent were under the age of 18. The funding that BCM is requesting will go directly to solutions to housing our most vulnerable individuals..
The BCM believes a consistent allocation of flexible funding to big cities will make a necessary and dramatic step to address the homelessness crisis across California and become a national model for addressing the crisis nationwide.
“Such a bold commitment would have a transformative and lasting impact on California, and make California a national model of compassion.” said the coalition.
The Big City Mayors met with State Leadership, and at their urging, both the Assembly and Senatehave included $4 billion a year in funding for housing and homelessness over multiple years in their budget priorities, released earlier this week.
To read the full letter, click here.
The Big City Mayors is a coalition of Mayors across California’s 13 largest cities. Members include Mayors from Los Angeles, San Diego, San José, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Riverside, Santa Ana, and Stockton.