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In reaction to Governor Brown's proposed 2016-17 state budget, released today, Housing California issued the following response: 

"California has the nation's highest poverty rate, highest number of people experiencing homelessness, and the second highest housing costs, yet today, Governor Brown proposed a budget that provides no new help for the many people struggling to stay in their homes," said Shamus Roller, executive director of Housing California. "Every day the media runs stories about how California's cost of housing is creating more homelessness, about teachers being priced out of the communities they serve, about college students sleeping in their cars during the week, and most-recently about Toyota, a major employer, moving one of its plants to Texas because of high housing costs. The media covers the housing-affordability crisis daily, the general public feels the impact daily, but today's budget proposal indicates a clear disconnect with our governor."

"In 2007, we were already failing to build enough housing affordable to those who keep our communities running. Since then, 69 percent of the funding for housing in California has vanished in large part because of actions championed by Brown. We've reached historic lows in our investment. As more and more hardworking families are ending up on the streets, our governor is dismissing questions about housing by saying the state budget is 'not a candy store where you can pick out whatever you want.'"

"We expected to see the $400 million as part of the ongoing appropriation for cap-and-trade's Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities Program; however, that program is designed to reduce greenhouse gasses. It's not designed as a housing-production program. Like the governor, housing and homelessness advocates are looking at the long-term and concerned about taxpayer dollars. That's why investment today in housing for those struggling to get by is so critical. In Los Angeles, people who live on the street cost taxpayers an average of $35,764/year as they cycle through expensive emergency rooms and costly jails -- two-thirds of which are for healthcare costs; whereas, housing (even with services for those who need extra help to remain stably housed) costs a mere $7,260/year."

"Housing California will work with legislators and the governor this year to bridge the disconnect between what Californians need and where we invest public dollars. This is the year we must re-invest in housing for those who make our state great. Without it, California will be forced to cover increased costs associated with homelessness and lose more businesses to other states. We invest now, or we pay later."

Official Announcement from the

State of California

The FLIP SIDE of the Discussion

Senate Announces “No Place Like Home” Initiative To

Tackle Homelessness in California

Monday, January 04, 2016

LOS ANGELES — To assist local communities in preventing and addressing homelessness, a bipartisan coalition of members from the California State Senate introduced a strategic and first-of-its kind “No Place like Home” initiative at a press conference at The Star Apartments on Skid Row in Los Angeles on Monday. This unprecedented policy framework amounting to over $2 billion in support builds on years of research and best practices and is guided by the core belief that no individual or family in California should ever experience the uncertainty and pain of living without a home.

“This bipartisan legislative package will help secure progress in tackling homelessness and provide a key to health and hope for many Californians who have no place to go.” said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). “Coming off the holiday season, I can think of no better way to start the legislative session than in Skid Row focused on lifting those without voices in our political process.”

“This is a tipping-point moment for mental health, homelessness, and Proposition 63 in California.” Said former Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, co-author of Proposition 63 (2004) – The Mental Health Services Act – and founder The Steinberg Institute. “Thanks to the leadership of this Senate, we have a historic opportunity to help local communities forge systemic long-term solutions, making a real difference in the lives of thousands of forgotten Californians.”

The Senate proposal is crafted with the understanding that fighting modern homelessness – with long-term solutions, not short-term band-aids – requires a localized approach sustained by a strategic statewide commitment.

The proposals will empower local governments with additional resources and flexibility to better serve homeless individuals and families, increase access to affordable housing, address the effects of income inequality and, and extend proven programs for homeless who are either disabled or in need of mental-health assistance.

California has the nation’s largest homeless population while ranking as the seventh largest economy of the world at the same time. The 114,000 total homeless people who live across our state make up 22 percent of the nation’s homeless population, with Los Angeles holding the dubious ranking of the homeless capital of the country with nearly 42,000 homeless residents.

The Senate legislative package on homelessness re-purposes Proposition 63 (2004) – The Mental Health Services Act – bond money and creatively leverages billions of additional dollars from other local, state, and federal funding to achieve the following goals:
 • $2 billion bond to construct permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless persons with mental illness.
 • $200 million, over 4 years, to provide supportive housing in the shorter-term, rent subsidies, while the permanent housing is constructed or rehabilitated.   
 • Support for two special housing programs that will assist families:

The “Bringing Families Home” pilot project, a county matching grant program to reduce homelessness among families that are part of the child welfare system.

The CalWORKs Housing Support Program, which provides housing and support services for CalWORKs families in danger of homelessness.  

Income support and outreach:

   • An increase in Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) program grants which provide income support for the aged, blind, and disabled poor who cannot work.

Rates of homelessness are higher for persons with disabilities who cannot work; SSI/SSP is intended to help them make ends meet, and a large portion of grants usually goes toward rent.

These increases will assist about 1.3 million low-income Californians (72% with disabilities and 28% who are elderly).

•  A one-time investment to incentivize local governments to boost outreach efforts and advocacy to get more eligible poor people enrolled in the SSI/SSP program.

The federal government covers 72% of the total costs of the SSI/SSP program, so state and local benefits are multiplied significantly for each newly eligible recipient.
California has more than one third of the nation’s chronically homeless – those with mental illness or other significant problems, and an even higher percentage among homeless women. Of the 28,200 chronically homeless in California, nearly 85 percent are unsheltered with this group absorbing the greatest amount of taxpayers’ resources, often topping $100,000 annually per person in public costs for emergency room visits, hospital stays, law enforcement, and other social services.

The Senate proposal supports a “housing first” strategy which many homeless advocates and social service experts  across the state prefer because it provides safe, secure housing creates an environment that allows for wrap-around services, such as mental health treatment, to take hold. Studies show homelessness aggravates mental illness, making it more difficult to reach and house those with the greatest need of shelter and treatment. 

There are local programs, such as Project 25 in San Diego, which are successfully housing, treating, and transitioning chronically homeless clients back into society. Project 25 is a 3-year-pilot program funded by the United Way of San Diego and led by St. Vincent de Paul which uses the housing first model as a means of intensive case management and delivery of psychiatric and medical care to several dozen clients. Project 25 is paying dividends for the taxpayers. In two years the annual public costs related to participants of Project 25 were reduced nearly 63 percent, to $1.6 million from $4.3 million.

~Edmund Burke

"All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing."


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