Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday he supports legislation to put some of the state’s projected $6.1 billion budget surplus into programs that alleviate homelessness.
Garcetti said a bill introduced earlier this month by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, could lead to as much as $382 million in state funds coming to the city, which would need to be matched by the city for a total of $764 million.
Garcetti is among 11 mayors around the state who are sponsoring Ting’s bill and pushing for about $1.5 billion of the anticipated surplus to be used toward helping cities around the state pay for programs that address homelessness.
The number of encampments and tents continue to grow in Los Angeles, despite the recent passage of local measures, such as Proposition HHH and Measure H, to fund permanent housing projects and homeless services.
Last year’s homeless count found that on a single night there were at least 34,000 people who did not have a permanent residence, nearly three-quarters of whom were unsheltered.
Garcetti said that while the city may soon see the results of its local funding measures, other levels of government, such as the state, need to step in to help.
“We’ll leverage every single possible thing at our disposal,” but the state should play a role in addressing its “greatest challenge — homelessness,” he said.
Garcetti spoke during a news conference in skid row, an area of downtown Los Angeles that has a high concentration of the city’s homeless services and population.
He joined local Assembly members who support and co-authored AB 3171, the bill that calls for a portion of the state’s surplus funds to go toward programs to reduce homelessness.
Homelessness has reached crisis levels in CA. Many of the state’s mayors have asked for help. I’ve introduced AB 3171, which allocates $1.5 billion in matching grants from the state budget to supplement local efforts. Please watch my announcement:https://t.co/4nddUSmIMl
— Phil Ting (@PhilTing) February 22, 2018
Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, who is a co-author on the bill, said if it passes, it would be on the governor’s desk by September. Lawmakers are also pushing for the funding allocation as part of budget discussions for the upcoming fiscal year starting July, he said.
Santiago said he believes the issue “resonates .. with most of our colleagues.”
“I don’t think there is a single municipality up and down the state (that) isn’t impacted by the issue of homelessness,” Santiago said. He pointed to northern California cities like Sacramento, San Jose and San Francisco as among those that also have significant homeless populations.
Santiago represents an area that includes Skid Row, which he described as “one of the worst humanitarian crisis known on planet Earth.”
Homelessness has become prevalent across Los Angeles County, including in the areas represented by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, whose district includes Burbank, Glendale and La Canada-Flintridge.
As funding for housing assistance and other services continues to decline at the federal level, “in California we’re going to have to pick up the slack,” Friedman said.
“This problem affects all of us,” she said during Monday’s news conference. “Increasingly, we’re seeing women, we’re seeing children, we’re seeing veterans, every single segment of our population is at risk, given the rising housing costs around the state.”
“We need a bed for every head, and we don’t have that right now in Los Angeles,” she said. “So until you have that, you’re never going to end homelessness.”
The estimate of how much funding could come to Los Angeles is based on the assumption that the city would get a proportion of the funds that matches the fact that Los Angeles has about 25 percent of the state’s homeless population. Specifics about how much funding, how it would be allocated have not been worked out or could change during the legislative process.
Garcetti said he could see the proposed state infusion being used toward “bridge housing,” which are temporary housing facilities that could be used to shelter people while more permanent and affordable housing units get built.