California Big City Mayors Highlight the Role of Flexible Funds in Addressing the Homelessness Crisis
Monday April 25th, 2022
California Big City Mayors Highlight the Role of Flexible Funds in Addressing the Homelessness Crisis
Flexible homelessness funds have supported 25,000 interventions to househomeless residents, but funding runs out this fiscal year
Sacramento, CA – The California Big City Mayors, a bipartisan coalition of the mayors of California’s 13 largest cities, held a press conference in Sacramento today to highlight the importance of flexible state funding in addressing the statewide crisis of homelessness. As currently budgeted, a key flexible funding source called Homelessness Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) ends in 2023.
HHAP is a flexible state funding program established in 2019. Along with the Homelessness Emergency Assistance Program (HEAP) established in 2018, these sources of flexible state funding have helped mayors address the escalating crisis of homelessness in California’s big cities for four fiscal years. To date, HEAP and HHAP funds have allowed the thirteen largest cities in California to serve 25,000 individuals, and increase shelter capacity by over 9000 beds.
HHAP funds have been used in innovative and effective ways across the state to serve local needs. The first round of funding allocations allowed Big City Mayors to rapidly scale homelessness intervention measures, speed up procurement and delivery of interim and permanent housing solutions, and fill gaps that would have prevented cities from serving homeless residents. The flexibility of HHAP dollars allowed cities to leverage other, more constrained, funding sources, such as FEMA and Homekey funds. A typical example is using Homekey funds for purchasing and renovating a motel and HHAP funds to cover operating expenses for use as transitional housing.
The flexibility of HHAP funds are also responsible for several recent innovations in homeless interventions in our cities, including:
- Flexible non-congregant shelters like Cabin Communities and Pallet Shelters,
- Safe Sleep Sites and Safe RV Parks,
- Tiny Home Villages,
- Special Population Interim Housing, including for pregnant and postpartum moms, and
- Data Systems to better track outcomes and improve accountability.
Without continued HHAP funding, local entities are facing a fiscal cliff that would result in the closing of countless shelters and entry points to housing assistance, potentially resulting in tens of thousands of Californians losing shelter, housing or services.
California’s Big City Mayors request the legislature and Governor provide an additional allocation of $1 Billion dollars for three years for a cumulative total of $3 billion to address the homelessness crisis directly. With ongoing funding, Big City Mayors will continue to use these HHAP dollars responsibly to address homelessness in our big cities, and transition people into various permanent housing options.
Oakland Mayor and Big City Mayors Chair Libby Schaaf said, “Homelessness is California’s greatest shame, and the heartbreaking issue of our time. Governor Newsom and the legislature have helped us grapple with this crisis by allowing cities to innovate and address issues locally with flexible state funding. If these funds aren’t continued, we face the prospect of seeing children, seniors, even our Veterans back on the streets. We can’t let that happen – we need continued funding in the state budget.”
“I am so proud of what California’s Big City Mayors has achieved and grateful for the commitment of our leaders in Sacramento,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I applaud the Legislature and Governor Newsom for their historic investment in HHAP, however, our work is not yet done. We know what’s at stake and we know that stable housing improves people’s lives. By doubling down on our investment, we can build more equitable cities — and create hope and opportunity for unhoused Californians.”
“California’s cities are grateful to Governor Newsom and our state Legislature for their leadership in treating homelessness as a top priority by funding the Homeless, Housing Assistance & Prevention Program,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “We’re making progress and can’t let up now, which is why we are asking state leaders to fund three more years of the HHAP Program to help us continue to move people off the streets and into permanent homes.”
“Our bipartisan coalition of mayors from California’s biggest cities understands the urgency of addressing the homelessness crisis affecting 161,000 of our residents,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “We’re deploying more rapid, cost-effective, potent solutions than ever before, but we need ongoing State funding to operate and sustain these innovative solutions to avoid pushing people back into the street.”
“Big City Mayors continue to put solutions to homelessness front and center. This is because there are thousands of Californians who have no place to call home,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “I am encouraged by our partnership with Legislative Leadership and Governor Newsom, which has helped cities create pathways out of homelessness. Only with flexible, ongoing funds can we build on this progress and help our unsheltered population obtain housing and create lasting change for our communities.”
“We are facing a serious crisis. Without continued state funding, operations of motels we have purchased and renovated for transitional housing will cease, potentially forcing hundreds of formerly homeless residents back into the streets. This is the wrong direction and would come at the wrong time — when we are hoping to turn the corner in our fight to end homelessness. That is why it is so important that the state continue its partnership with cities on this critical issue. We have momentum and proven success. Let’s not stop it now,” said Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer.
“What Sacramento and other cities have done to increase shelter and housing is really important, but it is not enough,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “What we need is a more permanent source of funding to expand the help we can offer for the tens of thousands of people on our streets. The last thing we can afford as a state is to cut off funding to cities and go back. We want to go forward, and I believe we can if we continue this partnership that has been so powerful.”
“In Long Beach, we are working at every level to battle homelessness, and funding from the State has been critical to our efforts,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “As mayors, we see first-hand how funding from the Homelessness Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) program impacts our communities – and no one city is exactly the same. The flexibility HHAP provides allows us to get creative and find solutions that fit our cities. I am hopeful the advocacy for our unhoused residents that our teams achieved today will ensure continued investments like this for years into the future.”
“The toll of homelessness across our state causes irreparable harm to our most vulnerable. It threatens to forever impact the quality of life of residents and businesses. Our police departments, medical response teams, shelters, parks, and sidewalks are bearing the brunt of California’s mental health and substance abuse crisis. We need help,” said Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh. “Over the past three years the City of Bakersfield has used HHAP funding to double our City’s shelter capacity. The need remains great. We call upon the Governor and Legislature to continue supporting cities with a flexible direct HHAP allocation as we seek sustainable, systemic change to end California’s paramount crisis.”
“Direct, flexible funding for cities has proven to be California’s most effective way of addressing our state’s homelessness crisis,” Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu said. “We are on the frontlines of this crisis, and funding for Anaheim and other cities has brought a virtuous return on investment for our state. We have gotten people off our streets, into shelters and on a pathway of recovery with services and the help they need. But for all we have done, there is always more to do. We need California to hold strong in its commitment to this crisis by providing certainty about long-term funding for this successful partnership of the state and its largest cities. There is no greater budget priority in the years ahead.”
“Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis affecting the quality of life for all Stockton residents. The funding we have received from the State has allowed us to take action on solutions treating the root cause of this issue and ultimately bring healing to our unsheltered and sheltered residents. We are working to address the fundamental needs surrounding homelessness through expanded low-barrier shelter access, safe camping and parking sites, transitional housing, wrap-around mental, behavioral, and substance use services, and long-term affordable housing. Increased levels of flexible funding from the State will allow us to continue our progress in addressing this crisis and provide a sustainable impact for our community,” said Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln.
“As we approach the end of direct state funding to cities for HHAP and Homekey, the need to continue this investment of flexible funding is critical. Each of California’s cities face their own unique challenges with homelessness, and this funding has been a lifeline for so many.” Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said. “As mayors, we know where the gaps are in our cities. We have city-specific knowledge of how to spend this money effectively and efficiently and welcome the accountability that comes with this flexibility. Flexibility is key to innovation and in Riverside, we’ve been innovative. We used our HHAP funding to open and fund operations for the very first pallet shelter community in Southern California, serving 250 residents in this non-congregant shelter annually. Riverside is depending on the legislature and Governor to ensure that our city—and others—can maintain these important services.”
“Addressing homelessness remains a top priority for the City of Santa Ana. As the county seat, we have experienced a disproportionate number of houseless individuals as compared to our neighboring cities,” said Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento. “With the financial support we have received from Governor Newsom, Santa Ana has stepped up and championed real solutions to homelessness including building permanent supportive housing, navigation centers and wrap-around supportive services. In order for us to continue implementing these practical solutions, we need to continue this partnership with the State of California through ongoing financial support.”
California’s Big City Mayors look forward to continuing to work with the Governor’s office and the State Legislature to address the housing and homelessness crisis, and thank them for past investments sent directly to the front lines. The request for three more rounds of HHAP funding will allow Big City Mayors to continue and build upon the successes of HHAP funds already allocated, and expand the reach of services that address California’s most pressing issue.
Find the full report here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/1x5ows6lirgxfot/BCM%20Report%20Final%20.pdf?dl=0
About Big City Mayors
The Big City Mayors is a coalition of mayors from California’s thirteen largest cities with a population over 300,000. Member cities include Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Riverside and Stockton. This year, the Big City Mayors are chaired by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.