Hundreds of city officials from throughout the state gathered outside the Capitol Wednesday morning to unveil the results of a recent survey that shines a light on cities’ response to the statewide homelessness crisis. City leaders shared the barriers cities face when serving unhoused residents and called on the state to find a permanent home in the budget to prevent and reduce homelessness and boost the supply of affordable housing.
“The state’s homelessness crisis is so severe that the Governor has called in the National Guard, and several city leaders have declared emergencies in their jurisdictions. However, lasting progress will be out of reach without an ongoing source of state investment in local communities,” said Cal Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman. “City officials are doing their part to be a strong partner to support unhoused residents and keep Californians in their homes, and dedicated state funding is critical if we’re going to reverse this decades-in-the-making crisis.”
The survey, conducted by the League of California Cities last month, shows while cities are accelerating their efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness and boost affordable housing in their communities, the demand for housing and services is outpacing their efforts, straining capacity, and draining resources.
The survey found that nearly 85% of cities reported they have implemented programs to prevent and reduce homelessness. Eight in ten cities are spending general fund money to address homelessness.
“Cities like San Luis Obispo are innovating with on-the-ground programs to address homelessness,” said San Luis Obispo Mayor Erica Stewart. “In fiscal year 22-23, our city spent over $3 million to address homelessness and invest in preserving low-income housing units in the city. Cities need long-term funding from the state to be able to grow our investment in addressing the homelessness and housing crisis.”
Nearly 90% of cities that responded to the Cal Cities survey have fiscal concerns over their ability to provide existing homelessness services long term.
“Our community is committed to addressing the urgent crisis of homelessness and affordable housing, but our efforts alone cannot meet the overwhelming demand,” said Citrus Heights Mayor Porsche Middleton. “With ongoing funding, we can provide critical services and shelter to those in need and work towards a brighter future for all residents.”
When asked about the barriers to progress, survey respondents listed limited supportive housing options and a lack of ongoing funding as two of the top challenges.
“The addition of more affordable housing continues to be a vital part of Santa Ana’s efforts to end homelessness in our community, in addition to our Homeless Navigation Center already in place,” says Santa Ana Mayor Valerie Amezcua. “The allocation of $50.9 million in grant-related funding to address homelessness and 254 new permanent supportive housing units through multiple projects currently under construction demonstrates the city’s commitment towards alleviating the ongoing crisis.”
Cities are calling on $3 billion in ongoing funding to help cities prevent and reduce homelessness and boost affordable housing. According to the survey, cities would use increased state funding to provide additional supportive services, increase shelter space, accelerate affordable housing development, invest in homeless outreach teams, and expand rent subsidy programs.