Written by The Business Journal Staff
California’s Big City Mayors — a coalition of mayors from the 13 largest cities in the state — are asking leaders for record level funds to end homelessness.
Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer is joining 12 other big city mayors on a virtual call to ask Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leadership to include a $4 billion annual investment put in the state budget to permanently house nearly every Californian who entered a homeless shelter in 2020. The total requested amount is $20 billion.
This allocation would be the largest allocation of funds dedicated to fighting the homelessness crisis in United States history. It could build over 100,000 homes for unhoused residents in California.
With a combination of the State’s record surplus, plus the $26 billion California received from the American Rescue Plan, the coalition of mayors sees a unique opportunity to measurably impact the homelessness crisis in California.
“Thanks to our partnership with state legislative leaders, here in Fresno we have been able to move hundreds of our most vulnerable residents off of the streets and into transitional housing, where they are being provided with services and, hopefully, a path to a better life,” said Dyer. “Right here, right now, we are making a real difference in people’s lives. But we can do more. We must do more. That can only happen if this state-local partnership continues. To that end, I urge the Legislature and Gov. Newsom to set aside a one-time $16 billion allocation, spent at $4 billion annually over the next four years, so the State’s largest cities can address the most important issue of our time.”
In early April, the coalition sent a letter to California state leadership outlining the need for an ongoing source of funding for building new housing. The multi-year request came from the average cost of a Project Homekey unit at $148,000.
Mayors continue to use funding from other programs, including the Home Energy Assistance Program and Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention, as well as previous one-time state funding allocations to build prefabricated dorms, modular housing, tiny homes and shelters more cost-effectively with state and local builders.
According to figures from the state’s Homeless Data Integration System, of the 248,130 people local providers reported serving in 2020, 91,626 people moved into permanent housing, and 117,109 people remained actively engaged in services or shelter but were not yet permanently housed, underscoring the need for housing in California.
“We appreciate the unprecedented scale of this financial commitment, one appropriate to the unprecedented—and growing—scale of this massive crisis, one that will define our generation’s collective legacy. We urge flexible funding commensurate with our monumental task ahead — and we thank you for your leadership and continued partnership,” the mayors wrote in the letter.