POLITICS

California Mayors Push For More Money To Fight Homelessness

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said “the budget just changed” after a meeting with mayors on housing.

California’s mayors are asking for more funds from the state to fight homelessness ― and it appears Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is on board.

After a meeting Wednesday on housing and homelessness with about a dozen mayors from across the Golden state, Newsom told reporters “the budget just changed,” according to NBC.

In the budget Newsom proposed in January, the governor had set aside $500 million to spend on regional and local homelessness programs ― the same amount former Gov. Jerry Brown had dedicated to the issue in 2018. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg leads the 13-member “Big City Mayors” group that’s asking for more funds, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco and more. His office couldn’t confirm to HuffPost how much more the mayors were asking for.

“We haven’t been doing enough to support cities,” Newsom said at a press conference after the meeting. “The budget just changed. This was an important meeting. I did not just listen, I took notes, and I’m taking direction. And it’s not just about more money, it’s about reprioritizing some of those investments.”

It is still unclear exactly how the governor plans to adjust the budget, the Los Angeles Times reported. Newsom is expected to provide a revised budget proposal in May to be agreed upon with the state legislature by mid-June.

HuffPost reached out to the governor’s office but did not immediately receive a response.

Amid the nation’s affordable housing crisis, California has been one of the states with the worst rates of homelessness. On a single day in January 2018, more than 500,000 people were homeless nationwide, according to a recent report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development ― and almost a quarter of homeless people in the U.S. lived in California alone.

People walk by homeless people sleeping on the streets of San Francisco, California -- Aug. 23, 2018.
People walk by homeless people sleeping on the streets of San Francisco, California -- Aug. 23, 2018.

The growing crisis of homelessness in California is nothing short of an emergency,” Steinberg said in a statement to HuffPost. “We are fortunate to have a governor in Gavin Newsom who recognizes that cities are on the front lines of this public health, safety and humanitarian threat.”

He said the state needs to “get thousands of people off the street” and focus on providing affordable housing.

The state’s Homeless Emergency Aid program provides funding to cities to spend on efforts like street outreach, housing vouchers, emergency shelters and drop-in support centers.

Among the mayors in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting with the governor were Los Angeles’ Eric Garcetti and Oakland’s Libby Schaaf. San Francisco’s London Breed was not there. HuffPost reached out to Breed’s office, but did not immediately receive a response.

In Northern California, housing prices have soared in recent years. As 3,000 teachers went on strike in Oakland last month, many cited the area’s lack of affordable housing as one of the main reasons teachers needed higher pay. And the problem has only deepened as devastating wildfires in Northern California have thrown even more families into homelessness in the past few years.

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