By Jess Taylor
Governor Newsom’s $12 billion homeless package will deliver $50 million in grants to local governments. This will aid those experiencing homelessness to relocate from encampments to housing. The grants are expected to home 44,000 homeless Californians.
From 2019 to 2020, the homeless population grew two percent nationwide and 6.8 percent in California alone. As the state with the highest rate of homelessness, there are around 151 thousand homeless people. The pandemic limited resources towards these individuals, including the shut down of shelters that were attempting to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC) released the application for local governments to apply for the $50 million grants, known as the Encampment Resolution Grant Program. These grants will be competitive to obtain because the local governments must commit towards specific encampments. In their applications, they must address how they plan to use these resources to house homeless individuals permanently.
Addressing the homelessness crisis, Governor Newsom stated, “The situation with encampments in California is unacceptable. I refuse to accept the status quo- our fellow Californians suffering in tents, under highway overpasses, exposed to elements, and living in unsanitary conditions. These new funds are another step towards providing dignified housing options for people exiting homelessness.”
The HCFC will prioritize the most unsafe and persistent encampments that are a greater threat to health and safety. Then, they will provide resources addressing the immediate homeless crisis leading to ways of permanent housing. The goal is to create sustainable restoration in places encampment has overtaken while providing safe options to those seeking shelter.
Supporting the target of housing 44,000 homeless individuals, the governor created the Clean California program that will use $1.1 billion to match grants to local governments in combating the issues of homelessness. As of now, the funds seen in this housing movement are the strongest the state has ever had for homelessness.
The chair of HCFC, Lourdes Castro Ramírez, sees these grants as a door to partnering with communities and creating real change through resources provided to those struggling to find housing. Ramírez says, “Funded projects will be human-centered and scalable and replicable for diverse communities across the state. We encourage all eligible cities, counties and continuums of care to partner up and apply.”
The HCFC has worked to make grants tangible for struggling cities, and they expect those who apply to have substantial plans before receiving any amount of funding. The HCFC requires proposals to discuss partnership opportunities with the state and philanthropic organizations while producing innovative ideas that assist homeless individuals. The objective is to best serve the diversity seen among Californian communities through different approaches.
Ensuring that local governments do not go in blind towards how they address homelessness in their communities, the 100-Day challenge has been launched. The purpose is for governments to test their ideas on how to serve the homeless.
“The 100-Day challenge creates a space for communities to explore and test innovative solutions throughout their delivery network,” says HCFC Executive Officer Julie Lo. “Previous challenges have found new ways to help veterans, youths, seniors, families and other Californians experiencing homelessness.”
The HCFC hopes that communities will work together with professionals to find the best solutions to the state’s homelessness crisis. The challenge kicks off on November 10 where California will see Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Merced, Fresno and San Bernardino participating.
While the country enters its third pandemic winter, California’s government is ambitious to combat homelessness. Applications for the grants are due December 31, and the HCFC plans to announce the grants in the spring of 2022.