Local governments across the state were rocked early Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that he’d temporarily withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in state homelessness funds until local governments submitted bolder plans to reduce homelessness.
The Los Angeles Times broke the news. But Newsom did not reject big-picture homelessness plans such as those released by the city of San Diego and the Regional Task Force on Homelessness.
Rather, Newsom is unimpressed with technical plans cities and counties across the state submitted to receive Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention Program funds, a specific stream of money the state provides to local governments. He wants bolder goals – and results.
The San Diego region had collectively expected to receive about $54 million from the grant program, some of which the city and others received months ago. Using those funds, regional leaders projected they’d achieve outcomes including a 10 percent increase in people accessing homeless services annually and 4 percent reductions in unsheltered homelessness and newly homeless San Diegans.
For now, the local impact of Newsom’s decision to hold back funds is unclear. Newsom’s office said he’s calling a meeting later this month to “review the state’s collective approach to homelessness and identify new strategies to better address the growing homelessness crisis.”
The city of San Diego – at least initially – appeared to potentially have the most to lose. So-called HHAP funding is most crucial to cities and San Diego planned to spend roughly $22 million of its overall $27 million allocation on shelters. The city has of late been focused on expanding shelters – and it is seeing more demand for beds it already has.
Rachel Laing, a spokeswoman for Mayor Todd Gloria, said the city for now has enough to keep its programs backed by HHAP funding running for the next few months, and expects to receive its full allocation by the end of the year after revising its action plan.
County spokesman Michael Workman said he couldn’t immediately comment on the impact of Newsom’s decision.
Nathan Fletcher, chair of the county Board of Supervisors, wrote in a statement that he looks forward to meeting with Newsom and other leaders across the state “to learn from one another and work together on a unified strategy for this humanitarian crisis.”
Gloria struck a similar tone.
“We look forward to a frank and productive discussion on how to improve outcomes to make the kind of tangible progress Californians want and deserve to see on our streets,” he wrote in a statement.