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Two San Diego lawmakers have joined Gov. Gavin Newsom in urging the Trump administration to swiftly release homeless census data amid continued speculation about a possible federal crackdown on homelessness in the state.
Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron teamed with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove to pen a Dec. 6 letter to President Donald Trump urging his administration to release point-in-time count data the state had initially counted on to allocate $650 million in homelessness aid.
The state had planned to use federally certified census data, typically released in November or December following counts at the beginning of the year, to dole out a substantial portion of the $1 billion included in the state budget to combat homelessness.
“We look forward to getting this information so we can move forward on addressing California’s homeless crisis,” Atkins, Waldron, Grove and Rendon wrote in their letter.
State officials have estimated the city, San Diego County and the Regional Task Force on the Homeless could collectively receive $38.8 million of the $650 million in Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention funds this year.
Two days before the lawmakers sent their letter, Newsom announced he was done waiting for final point-in-time count data and would use preliminary data to immediately allow cities, counties and continuum of care councils that coordinate homelessness efforts to begin applying for 75 percent of those funds. Newsom decided the remaining 25 percent can be handed out once the feds release finalized census numbers.
In an email to Voice of San Diego, the federal Housing and Urban Development press office reported that the agency expects to release point-in-time count data in mid-December. Last year’s data was released on Dec. 17.
Russ Heimerich of the state’s Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency said HUD had previously informed a state council focused on homelessness that finalized data would be released in November.
Waldron said she doesn’t consider the data to be late but told VOSD that she signed the bipartisan letter in hopes it would draw more attention.
“There’s a lot going on in D.C. and we thought it was appropriate to highlight the importance of California receiving the point-in-time data as soon as it’s available since we’ve based our budget spending on it,” Waldron said.
Waldron, Heimerich and a spokeswoman for Atkins said state leaders have yet to receive a response from the Trump administration.