The mayor of Riverside joined counterparts from a dozen other cities Thursday in requesting that the state allocate $4 billion annually for homeless relief programs.
“Residents in our cities have made it clear that homelessness is one of the greatest challenges of our time,” Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said. “This multi-billion-dollar proposal allows us to address the gravity of this crisis in our cities and support long-term solutions to homelessness such as Project Homekey, or non-traditional shelter models like our Riverside Village Community — the first of its kind in Southern California.”
Dawson and other members of the “Big City Mayors” coalition made a case in an online news briefing for the Legislature to dedicate the 10-figure sums every year based on the state’s escalating homelessness crisis. A quarter of the nation’s chronically unsheltered are in California, according to figures.
The mayors said the state’s estimated $26 billion in federal American Rescue Plan appropriations provide long-term opportunities to bolster homeless relief efforts.
“Our bipartisan coalition of large-city mayors knows too well the urgency of addressing the homelessness that afflicts 161,000 of our fellow Californians,” San Jose Mayor and BCM Chair Sam Liccardo said. “This year’s budget provides California with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to dramatically reduce homelessness — if we can muster the collective courage to stand up for our most vulnerable neighbors.”
According to state data, last year, 32,000 people statewide received homeless prevention assistance, double the number served three years earlier.
“Of those who accessed services, 41% reported a disabling condition, 9% were veterans, 17% reported experiences with domestic violence and 22% were under the age of 18,” according to a BCM statement. “The funding that BCM is requesting will go directly to solutions to housing our most vulnerable individuals.”
The $4 billion request stems from estimates that price in the average expense of a Project Homekey unit. Project Homekey involves purchasing run-down, abandoned, shuttered or blighted multi-room facilities, such as motels, and then renovating and converting them to transitional housing for the homeless.
The Assembly and Senate have already established $4 billion set-asides for homeless relief in the current proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, according to the mayors, who met with legislative leaders earlier this week.
Along with Riverside and San Jose, other BCM municipalities are Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Santa Ana and Stockton.
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