Cities and counties that don't see progress on the housing front could lose homeleless funding under proposed legislation. A bill introduced last week by Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D – San Fernando Valley) would make Homelessness Housing, Assistance, and Prevention (HHAP) funds contingent on what the author calls “tangible results.”
AB 799 would require that cities and counties receiving these funds meet certain goals, which could include reducing the number of unhoused people.
Rivas introduced the bill in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s surprising decision to freeze homeless funding for cities and counties last year. The funding was later resumed.
The state has spent over $15 billion on homelessness over the past two years. During that same time period, California’s homeless population increased by 6%, according to a new analysis from the Public Policy Institute. The increase happened mainly in urban areas, although San Francisco and Orange County saw declines. The Los Angeles Continuum of Care has the largest share of unhoused people at 38%, followed by San Jose (5.8%), Oakland (5.7%), Sacramento (5.4%), San Diego (4.9%) and San Francisco (4.5%).
“State funding plays a critical role in the fight against homelessness, however, funding alone will not solve systemic issues. The lack of accountability and inconsistent funding has caused a public policy feedback loop resulting in homelessness response systems to be unable to meet the challenges of rising housing costs and insufficient affordable housing availability,” stated Assemblywoman Rivas. “In response to the growing concerns on how our HHAP dollars are allocated and spent, I have introduced AB 799 to reform our current approach to issuing funds, to ensure money is tied to successful programs that have tangible results.”
Local leaders see it differently. They have repeatedly called for a permanent funding stream, saying the one-time funds make it hard to plan ahead and implement successful programs.
Despite the Governor’s frustration with a lack of progress and accountability, he has declined to publicly support Rivas’ bill. He says he hasn’t read it.