Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is one of 13 elected officials and institutional representatives tapped to advise the state on solutions to tackle the state’s homelessness crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced Tuesday.
Ridley-Thomas and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg will co-chair the advisory group, which will hold meetings across the state to assist local governments in crafting regional strategies to address homelessness, with a particular focus on homelessness prevention and early intervention, according to the governor.
“I look forward to partnering with Governor Gavin Newsom, Mayor Darrell Steinberg and other regional leaders and experts to ensure that the state of California steps up in strategic ways to confront this deepening and dynamic crisis,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement released by the govrnor’s office. “It is time for all levels of government to intensify our efforts, and take urgent swift and consistent action to combat homelessness.”
Newsom also announced plans to appoint working groups of other regional leaders, service providers, formerly homeless people and academics around specific geographies or issues affecting homelessness, to work in collaboration with the advisers. According to the governor’s office, the working groups will be formed in the coming weeks and may include experts on mental health, street homelessness or rural homelessness.
“It’s time we stop talking about the homelessness crisis and start acting,” Newsom said. “This is a crisis that affects all of California — from rural and urban communities to coastal and inland cities. We need to work collectively to source local solutions from mayors, county supervisors and city councils and implement those solutions at scale statewide.”
Since taking office in January, Newsom has made a point of using the state budget and partnerships with regional governments to take on the arduous tasks of increasing the state’s housing supply, tempering housing costs and fighting homelessness.
In April, he announced partnerships with the cities of San Diego, Chico, Fresno, Oakland, Sacramento and San Francisco to identify state-owned parcels of land on which to build affordable housing. Newsom also allocated roughly $1.3 billion for housing development in his state budget for fiscal year 2020, which he signed June 27.
The advisory group’s first three regional meetings are planned for August in the Central Valley, September in Southern California and October in Northern California. Exact dates, locations and working group presenters will be announced closer to the meeting times.
In addition to Ridley-Thomas and Steinberg, the elected officials named to the group are San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria and Arcata City Councilwoman Sofia Pereira.
The six institutional representatives are County Welfare Directors Association of California Executive Director Frank Mecca; Corporation for Supportive Housing Associate Director Sharon Rapport; Western Center on Law and Poverty policy advocate Anya Lawler; County Behavioral Health Directors Association Executive Director Michelle Cabrera; former U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Director Philip Mangano; and former Department of Social Services Director Will Lightbourne.
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