Gov. Gavin Newsom San Diego
Mayor Todd Gloria talks to reporters at the site of a homeless encampment in downtown San Diego on Jan. 12, 2022 after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his budget proposal of $14 billion to help thousands of people who are unsheltered get off the streets. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

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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.

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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9 Comments

  1. Some of the managers in housing commission buildings have decided certain ethnic groups shouldn’t be housed in the buildings they run.. They are evicting people left and right.. Using lies and bullying tactics to do so.. Can something be done to stop this ?

  2. SROs used to be important type of housing that kept people from living on the streets.

    In the past 10 -15 years most SRO have been demolished with no backfilling. Why isn’t the State and local government building more of this type of housing? Instead, all we hear about are $500,000 apartment units.

    I’m starting to think there is a homeless industrial complex similar to the bullet train.

    1. You’re on to something, here. Subsidized SRO’s along trolley lines, or any other government developments, seems like a doable solution.

    2. In addition, they’ve been collecting low-income unit development fees in lieu, where developers didn’t want to include housing units. Ostensibly the money is put into a fund to be used by the gov’t to build such housing. Seems they would have plenty of money by this time to buy market-value land to do this development. I’m sure that there are many organizations that would volunteer resources to build if the city feels it’s too expensive. There can be no such thing as “small gov’t” if we insist on tying outcomes to investment returns AND we are unwilling to allow people to live in public parks.

  3. Every Democrat who has allowed homelessness to INCREASE on their watch, and has FAILED to make ANY EFFECTIVE ACTION ON THIS ISSUE NEEDS TO BE VOTED OUT OF OFFICE! Newsom, Gloria, etc. are in favor of the MORONIC “Housing First” policy, which somehow thinks it is “logical” to house the mentally ill and the substance abusers who LOST THEIR HOUSING DUE TO THEIR CONDITIONS TO BEGIN WITH! Beyond moronic! Fire Newsom and Gloria!

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