A broad coalition of homeless advocates urged Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature to adopt the group’s proposed trailer bill to address homelessness in the 2023-24 state budget.
The proposed bill language, called the At Home Act, lists a comprehensive homelessness response system that Graham Knaus, CEO of the California State Association of Counties said addresses the state’s “uncoordinated” approach to homelessness.
“Homelessness is not rocket science,” said Graham during a virtual news conference. “It’s limited to our willingness to define responsibilities for each level of government, make investments to fund them, and hold each level of government accountable. Without those ingredients, we will fail.”
California represents half of the unsheltered homeless population in the United States, according to federal data.
Since 2022, the Bay Area hosts a significant share, with 38,000 individuals recorded homeless on any given night since 2019. That total is just a few thousand less than the capacity of Oracle Park in San Francisco.
“We can’t address this serious crisis without accountability at every level of government. Our proposed language … requires local governments and stakeholders to design Local Homeless Accountability Plans that are unique to that county or region.”John Gioia, Contra Costa County supervisor
The state’s business community says the proposed bill would restore confidence of the retail investors battered by the impact of homelessness, including crime and tent encampments on businesses.
“Homelessness is a chronic, daunting problem that impacts the ability of businesses to operate,” said Brenda Bass, policy advocate with the California Chamber of Commerce, who spoke during the virtual news conference. “Requiring local jurisdictions to work together to establish data-driven goals and implement meaningful solutions will bring confidence to the business community.”
Since 2018, the state has spent $9.6 billion to remedy homelessness. In March, Newsom announced $1 billion in homelessness funding to support communities in the state tackle homelessness. But the crises persist. California’s overall homeless population increased about 6 percent compared to the country’s 0.4 percent since 2020, a report by the Public Policy Institute of California shows.
“We can’t address this serious crisis without accountability at every level of government,” said John Gioia, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, who also spoke at the virtual media conference. “Our proposed language holds all levels of government accountable for results and requires local governments and stakeholders to design Local Homeless Accountability Plans that are unique to that county or region.”
The proposed 21-page bill contains tenets to foster accountability in the 2023-24 homelessness budget. These include creating real performance bonuses for jurisdictions reaching their goals in addressing homelessness while establishing corrective action plans and technical assistance for jurisdictions not meeting their goals.