Coalition of California mayors seek $20B from state to battle homelessness

Mayors from California's biggest cities have banded together asking state leaders for $20 billion to combat homelessness.

The mayor of San José and 12 of the state's other biggest cities agree there are too many people sleeping on the streets. They're saying this is a once in a generation opportunity to end homelessness, and are asking for a major financial commitment.

Mayors throughout the state say homelessness consistently tops their list of concerns. Now they are commending lawmakers and the governor who are considering committing $20 billion over the next five years on long-term, state-wide solutions to a growing problem.

"This commitment would be bold," said Mayor Sam Liccardo of San José. "Prior to this pandemic the state had never spent more than a billion dollars homelessness, in fact nothing even close to that. But we stand together to say 'we need to treat homelessness like the crisis that it is."

The mayors are banded together on the request, saying a $15-20 billion state budget surplus and $26 billion from the federal American Rescue Plan creates a unique opportunity.

The mayors said each city knows what works for them. The funding would allow for long-term planning for housing and the supportive services that would increase the probability of any program aimed at ending homelessness.

"The reality is that not one city can do this alone," said Mayor London Breed of San Francisco. "Not one city can fully address this problem, because it's clearly a statewide crisis."

Oakland's mayor said the state needs to battle homelessness with the same resolve as the coronavirus.

"$20 billion is an appropriate large investment in California's largest problem. It is something that we know our residents want, to see that we are actually going to bend the curve," said Mayor Libby Schaaf.

The State Assembly and Senate have each produced budget plans that include $20 billion to combat homelessness.

Now lawmakers need to reach an agreement on the details on how those plans would work. The governor will have the final sign off when the budget is approved possibly in mid-June.