As California legislators work to finalize the state’s 2021-22 budget, Mayor Eric Garcetti joined a coalition of mayors from California’s 13 largest cities Wednesday to show support for a proposal to give local governments $1 billion a year over the next four years to combat the homelessness crisis.
The Big City Mayors coalition, which initially called for $4 billion a year for five years, praised the Senate and Assembly joint budget plan to allocate $4 billion in flexible funding to local communities over the next four years.
The coalition includes mayors from San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Riverside, Santa Ana and Stockton. The 13 cities account for 11 million people, 29% of the state’s population but 59% of the state’s unsheltered population.
“We never could have expected the year we’ve lived through, but then to see this moment where California not only came back, it has roared back with the largest surplus in our history of the state,” Garcetti said. “Usually when the crisis comes, the resources aren’t there — when the resources are there the crisis isn’t there. This is actually a match made in heaven.”
The state has a $75.7 billion budget surplus. The final agreement for state homeless funding to cities has not yet been determined, Garcetti said, but could be finalized any day. The vote is expected by July 1, but cities may not receive any funding until August or September, according to Garcetti.
The coalition emphasizes that the homelessness problem is larger than individual cities in California and needs a consistent state response to be properly addressed. While about 568,000 people in the United States are experiencing homelessness, about 151,000 are in California, according to 2019 data from the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
“When will we finally make the sustained commitment and recognize while it won’t happen overnight, it will only happen with the depth and the breadth that we need,” Garcetti said.