The mayors of California’s thirteen largest cities banded together last week to request an astonishing $20 billion in funding to fight the state’s ongoing homelessness crisis.
The Golden State has the highest population of homelessness in the U.S., recording nearly 250,000 people living on the streets in 2020, and amounting to 25% of the nation’s unhoused residents, or what Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti calls “the biggest crisis in California.”
“With the right resources and with the help of our state, we can solve the homelessness crisis in L.A. and other major cities,” he tweeted. “The @CABigCityMayors are calling on state leaders to provide $4 billion in investment per year for our most vulnerable neighbors + build on our progress.”
.@CAGovernor's historic commitment to bring unhoused Californians indoors is a bold start on the road to ending homelessness.
Mayors are ready to work with state leaders and build on this proposal to get cities the resources needed to support our most vulnerable neighbors. https://t.co/zN7U1Jg8j7
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) May 11, 2021
In 2020, a record number of 32,000 people received homelessness prevention assistance. 41% of those served were disabled, 22% were minors, and 17% experienced domestic abuse according to the state’s Homelessness Data Integration System.
“We’re not coming in empty hats in hand, we’re coming with hard hats on and pockets already full of investments,” Garcetti continued. The twelve Democrats and lone Republican mayor know where the money will come from, the state budget reportedly has a $15-20 billion surplus, and $26 billion left over from the federal American Rescue Plan.
“This commitment would be bold,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Prior to this pandemic the state had never spent more than a billion dollars homelessness, in fact nothing even close to that. But we stand together to say ‘we need to treat homelessness like the crisis that it is.”
The lawmakers say the plan would increase the probability of ending homelessness by investing $4 billion a year, over a five-year period, into long-term planning for housing and the supportive services.
“$20 billion is an appropriate large investment in California’s largest problem. It is something that we know our residents want, to see that we are actually going to bend the curve,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf commented. “It’s going to take that repeated commitment of state, federal and local leadership to get the job done,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.
The State Assembly and Senate have already put together budget plans that allocate $20 billion to battle the homelessness crisis, but with cities already unable to stop the continuously worsening issue, will the money be well spent?
San Francisco had an $852 million dollar budget 2020-21 budget to deal with their 8,000 homeless and have managed little more than burning an average of $272 on nightly hotel rooms per person, and costing taxpayers $16.1 million to house 300 people in six “Safe Sleeping” tent villages.
Garcetti promised to spend a billion dollars to get more than 66,000 people off the streets of L.A. county, but appealed a judge’s order to find shelter for all the women and children of homeless mecca Skid Row within 90 days and to put the billion dollars he allocated into an account.
“Putting a billion dollars in escrow that doesn’t exist doesn’t seem possible,” Garcetti said in response to the ruling.