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California Awards Communities Nearly $200 Million to Address Homeless Camps

California Awards Communities Nearly $200 Million to Address Homeless Camps

A homeless encampment near Larchmont Charter School in Los Angeles. (Keith Johnson)

Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

4/19/2024

Updated: 4/21/2024

California Gov. Gavin Newsom welcomed county and city leaders from across the state to a virtual press conference April 18 to announce a new round of funding for projects aimed at reducing homeless encampments.
“This new funding will get people out of tents and into housing across California,” Mr. Newsom said. “As the state provides unprecedented resources like this, we also expect accountability. Local governments must ensure this funding is being utilized on the ground.”
Totaling about $192 million, the awards are part of the state’s Encampment Resolution Fund grants, which are overseen by the California Interagency Council on Homelessness.
“These grants show what is possible when the state partners with local communities to put people first and provide them with services to put them on the path to safe, stable housing,” Tomiquia Moss, secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency and homelessness council co-chair, said during the event.
“This approach focuses on providing the person-centered local solutions that will ensure that unsheltered Californians are connected to the appropriate housing and supportive services they need to achieve long-term stability.”
The money will support 20 projects in 17 cities and counties across California while prioritizing resolving encampments along the state’s right of way. Some 3,600 individuals will benefit from supportive services, of which 2,200 will be placed in permanent housing.
“All 17 communities had strong proposals that will help people transition from encampments and onto pathways to housing,” Meghan Marshall, executive officer for the homelessness council, said in an April 18 press release from the governor’s office. “While these grants will be made by our sister Department of Housing and Community Development, [the homelessness council] looks forward to supporting the success of these communities with technical assistance, grounded in evidence-based practices.”
More requests were received than can be accommodated, according to the governor.
“We are not able to meet the needs of all those who have requested and applied, but we want to continue to apply the pressure and continue to target in on what’s happening on our streets and sidewalks,” Mr. Newsom said.
Los Angeles County will receive by far the largest sum of $51.5 million, Marin County will receive $18.2 million, and San Mateo County and the Tehama County Continuum of Care will each receive $14.1 million, with four other counties receiving various amounts.
Nine cities will also benefit from the grants. Those receiving the most include Ojai with $12.7 million; Los Banos, $11.8 million; Oceanside, $11.4 million; Fresno, $10.9 million; and Oakland, $7.2 million.
Mayors expressed their gratitude, with one saying the money will prove immensely beneficial.
A homeless person covers himself in a blanket in San Francisco on March 7, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A homeless person covers himself in a blanket in San Francisco on March 7, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“Our community is deeply committed to addressing this pressing issue with compassion, innovation, and collaboration,” Helen Tran, mayor of San Bernardino—which was awarded $4.6 million—said during the press conference. “This funding is a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to provide essential support and resources to people experiencing homelessness in our city.”
One county leader said the money will be used to support those most in need.
“This grant will help address ... the most vulnerable people we have in our communities. Michael Callagy, deputy county manager for San Mateo County, said. “The goal is to stabilize the hard-to-reach population.”
Acknowledging the frustration felt by some critics who point to more than $24 billion spent on homelessness by the state in the past five years while counts show a ballooning unhoused population, as well as a recently released audit showing the state has failed to track the efficacy of such spending, the governor said accountability is key to solving the problem.
“People have had it, they’re fed up, and I’ve had it, I’m fed up,” Mr. Newsom said. “I know the mayors and city administrators are fed up, as well, and none of us are naive about the expectations that have been set ... by our constituents.”
The "Camp Integrity" homeless encampment on Andersen Drive in San Rafael, Calif., on April 16, 2024. (Brian Back/The Epoch Times)

The "Camp Integrity" homeless encampment on Andersen Drive in San Rafael, Calif., on April 16, 2024. (Brian Back/The Epoch Times)

Referencing the state’s newly formed Housing Accountability Unit, he said the group is focused on expanding oversight to improve the quality of programs utilizing grant money to serve communities.
Some counties are choosing not to use their general fund money to address the issue, the governor noted, suggesting he will not partner with local governments that are failing to take independent steps to solve the problem.
He noted that finding a balance between compassion and accountability remains a significant challenge for the state.
“People want to see these tents and encampments removed, but they want to see them removed in a thoughtful and compassionate way, and we agree,” Mr. Newsom said. “So this is a program that aligns with that, and it certainly is a program that builds on success.”
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Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

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Travis Gillmore is an avid reader and journalism connoisseur based in California covering finance, politics, the State Capitol, and breaking news for The Epoch Times.

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