By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Gov. Gavin Newsom is putting $1 billion in taxpayer-funded grants to address homelessness on hold until cities can pitch more ambitious plans to move individuals off the streets, his office said Thursday.
The governor said he plans to convene local leaders later this month to review the state’s approach to homelessness. Until then, the state will pause the third round of Homelessness Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) grants.
The latest round of grants offers a share of $1 billion to every county, continuum of care and the 13 largest cities of the state so long as they submit a plan that would reduce the number of unsheltered individuals and increase permanent housing options. According to the governor’s office, the current plans, as submitted, would only reduce homelessness by 2% statewide over four years.
“As a state, we are failing to meet the urgency of this moment,” Gov. Newsom said in a statement on Thursday. “Collectively, these plans set a goal to reduce street homelessness 2% statewide by 2024. At this pace, it would take decades to significantly curb homelessness in California – this approach is simply unacceptable.”
“Everyone has to do better – cities, counties, and the state included,” he added. “We are all in this together.”
The announcement comes less than a week before the Nov. 8 election, in which Gov. Newsom is heavily favored to win re-election. In the only debate between him and Republican State Sen. Brian Dahle, Gov. Newsom noted new accountability requirements for local governments receiving state funds to address homelessness, telling KQED debate moderators “we’re not going to hand out any money any longer if local governments can’t produce real results.”
To receive the third round of HHAP funding, potential recipients must now create a Homelessness Action Plan showing how they’ll reduce the number of individuals experiencing homelessness locally and identify all funding sources available. The plans were also required to include “outcome-driven results” with metrics to track progress, according to the governor’s office.
Gov. Newsom told the Los Angeles Times Wednesday that he is rejecting every local homelessness action plan in the state to demand more aggressive action. His office acknowledged Thursday that some plans submitted by local leaders demonstrate “aggressive action to combat homelessness,” but “others are less ambitious.” Some plans even indicated double-digit increases in homelessness over the next four years, according to the governor’s office.
Thus far, the state has paid out about $1.5 billion in HHAP funds to local jurisdictions to address homelessness. The funding is part of $15.3 billion in state spending earmarked in recent state budgets to address homelessness in the Golden State.
The governor plans to convene local jurisdictions for a meeting in mid-November to discuss strategies to address homelessness statewide.