Governor Newsom Announces More Funding to Move People out of Encampments; Wraps Homelessness into RHNA Process

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Oakland, CA – On Thursday, Governor Newsom announced at a press conference that he was allocating nearly $200 million in new state funds to help move people out of encampments and into housing.

Along with this announcement, the Governor announced new measures that will increase oversight of state homelessness funding to ensure accountability by local jurisdictions.

“This new funding will get people out of tents and into housing across California. As the state provides unprecedented resources like this, we also expect accountability. Local governments must ensure this funding is being utilized on the ground,” the Governor said.

The Governor said, “People have had it. They’re fed up. I’ve had it, I’m fed up. I know the mayors and the city administrators are fed up as well. None of us are naive about the expectation that has been set in terms of our constituents. People want to see these tents and encampments removed, but they want to see them removed in a compassionate and thoughtful way, and we agree.”

Later the Governor announced that they wanted to wrap homelessness into the RHNA Process.

The awards, totaling approximately $192 million, are part of the state’s Encampment Resolution Fund (ERF) grants, which are administered by the California Interagency Council on Homelessness (Cal ICH). These grants will support 20 projects in 17 California communities aimed at helping people experiencing homelessness transition from encampments into housing.

“These grants show what is possible when the state partners with local communities to put people first and provide them with services to put them on the path to safe, stable housing,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Tomiquia Moss, who co-chairs Cal ICH. “This approach focuses on providing the person-centered local solutions that will ensure that unsheltered Californians are connected to the appropriate housing and supportive services they need to achieve long-term stability.”

“All 17 communities had strong proposals that will help people transition from encampments and onto pathways to housing,” said Cal ICH Executive Officer Meghan Marshall. “While these grants will be made by our sister Department of Housing and Community Development, Cal ICH looks forward to supporting the success of these communities with technical assistance, grounded in evidence-based practices.”

The Governor noted that, four years ago, the state did not set aside “one dollar to encampments specifically.”

He said, “While there was some money given to cities and counties, it was not specified for its specific use. We put together working with the legislature, a $50 million pilot project, and it was called Encampment Resolution Grant for a reason. It wasn’t just about cleaning out or cleaning up encampments. It was about resolving the underlying issues that reside within and around the encampments.”

However, he called that $50 million, “Wildly oversubscribed.”

And so they went back to the legislature for another $700 million – meaning the total amount was “now three quarters of a billion dollars in this program.”

Under this program, “2200 people will be permanently housed, but that’s not the whole story.”

The Governor explained, “There is an additional roughly 3,600 people that have been identified for specific services. Again, these applications talk about specific outcomes, specific people and timelines, and so we can quantify on the basis of that application and their approval the grant tied to that expectation.”

He said, “This is a program that works. We want to continue to make investments in this space. We are not able to meet the needs of all of those that have requested and applied for this program, but we want to continue to apply the pressure to continue, to really target in on what’s happening on the streets and sidewalks as a disproportionate priority in this state.”

The Governor said they also want to build on the success in terms of accountability to the work they’ve done on housing.

He said, “We want to take that model on housing and we now want to roll homelessness into that unit. We’ll be moving 22 existing personnel, not requesting new people, existing personnel, into this new homeless and accountability unit.”

The Governor said he wants to work with local jurisdictions in real time.

“It’s about technical assistance. It’s not just about a punitive measure on the backend, but we do believe that there needs to be at least some stick on the backend,” he said.

He explained a component part to this, where they want to roll into the 7th RHNA cycle.

He said, “We want to make sure that we’re not just planning for housing at all income levels, but that all income levels include people’s zero to 15% of area median income that include people, 15 to 30% of area median income, low income housing, meaning homeless housing as well.”

The Governor explained, “So we want to wrap into the arena process now, homelessness as well.”

He called this “a bottom up, not top down process.”

He said that, particularly with respect to homelessness, “a state, a state vision is realized at the local level. Localism is determinative, and that’s really the spirit of driving this partnership of accountability.”

When completed, the projects funded by the awards announced on Thursday will provide services and support for nearly 3,600 people, of which 2,200 will receive permanent housing. Twelve of the 20 projects are designed to resolve encampments along state rights-of-way.

About The Author

Roxy Benson is a third year student at the University of Vermont studying political science, with a minor in Gender Women and Sexuality Studies. While currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in Political Science, Roxy hopes to apply to law school in the future to further learn more about the American justice system, as well as aiding the system with the goal of eliminating instances of everyday injustices. She has had a continued passion form criminal justice reform, and finds her passions aligning with advocating for different social justice issues that face the system as a whole through her writing, as well as immersing herself in her studies.

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