Senators Skinner, Beall, Wiener, Roth, and Jackson Unveil Unprecedented State Effort to Help the Homeless
Sacramento, California — Today, Senators Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Jim Beall (D-San Jose), Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Richard Roth (D-Riverside) and Hannah Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) held a joint press conference to unveil the Senate’s $5 billion plan to address California’s housing and homelessness crisis. Building on Senator Skinner and Beall’s SB 912, the $5 billion would be spent over a four-year period to fund permanent affordable housing, rent assistance, as well as supportive services and temporary shelter for California’s homeless.
“With more than 100,000 Californians now living on our streets, we know that fixing our housing and homelessness crisis is a priority,” said Skinner. “Directing significant funding for affordable housing and to help the homeless is a reflection of our values and an appropriate use of one-time funds.”
“The housing shortage is our biggest problem and requires a bold solution. By investing $5 billion in housing programs with records of success, California can start closing the housing gap now,” said Senator Beall. “Today’s proposal provides substantial funding for short-term solutions to get homeless off the streets immediately; but it also includes long-term solutions to create permanent housing that can prevent homelessness.”
“California has one of the highest homelessness rates in the nation, and it’s growing fast,” said Senator Jackson. “From affordable housing to supportive services, we need to tackle the homeless crisis from all sides if we expect to see results.”
While homelessness across the country declined over the past decade, California’s homeless population is rising, increasing 3 percent from 2015 to 2016 and 14 percent more from 2016 to 2017.
“I want to applaud this extraordinary, and much-needed, investment in California’s humanitarian crisis,” said Senator Roth. “This comprehensive approach will not only allow us to be proactive, but also tackle the issue of chronic homelessness, which all too often includes our state’s veterans.”
Studies show that housing the homeless lowers long-term costs. A 2017 UC Irvine study found that by housing its homeless population, Orange County could save $42 million a year in healthcare, law enforcement and other costs. A 2009 Economic Roundtable study found that costs associated with homeless individuals in Los Angeles County were five times higher than for those in supportive housing.
The Senate’s plan calls for over $5 billion in spending on homeless and affordable housing over four years. This includes roughly $2 billion for affordable housing construction and another $2 billion in funding for programs and housing to address short- and long-term homelessness.
“This budget proposal is a significant investment in our need for more affordable housing, which, along with changes to how and where we build housing, is essential to addressing our housing needs,” said Senator Wiener. “This proposal also contains funding I have requested in Senate Bill 918, along with my co-author Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, to begin to meet the needs of California’s over 15,000 homeless youth.”