Yesterday, the California State Legislature approved the State’s Homeless Emergency Aid Program budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 19. It includes unprecedented investments in funding infrastructure and services to reduce homelessness in California, including $12 million to the City of Long Beach. With the overall rise in homelessness statewide, Long Beach, alongside California’s largest cities, has been advocating for increased state funding to cities to address this issue.
Since January, the Big 11 Mayors, who represent the eleven largest cities in California, have worked with legislative leaders, the Administration and local government representatives to advocate for a meaningful investment to combat the statewide homeless crisis. Throughout their advocacy, the Big 11 Mayors maintained that cities should receive state funding because they are on the front lines of the homeless crisis. They also argued that resources allocated to this issue must be flexible enough for cities to deploy solutions that best fit their communities.
“Securing these critical funds was the top legislative priority of California’s big city mayors,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “For Long Beach, it means significant funding for us to meet our goal of opening a year-round city shelter, and some innovative approaches to addressing homelessness across the city.”
The state’s largest cities by population, including Long Beach, along with established Continuums of Care will work with the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to develop spending plans by December 31, 2018, for the Homeless Emergency Aid Program funding. Grantees will produce a report by January 1, 2020 pertaining to contract expenditures, the number of homeless individuals served by program funds, and progress toward state and local homelessness goals.
The Homeless Emergency Aid Program budget includes $500 million in one-time funding for emergency aid to local governments to respond to homelessness. Statewide, this funding will be allocated as follows:
$250 million as proposed in the Governor’s May Revised Budget, allocated to Continuums of Care.
$150 million directed to a city, or city and county with a population over 330,000.
$100 million allocated to the Continuums of Care based on each city’s point-in-time count of its homeless population.
While Long Beach has experienced a 41% decline in its point time count from 2011-2017, there are still more than 2,000 people experiencing homelessness in the city and 65% of those are living on the street. There are even more individuals and families struggling to keep from falling into homelessness.
To address the statewide homelessness crisis, Long Beach is continuing to push forward on aggressive strategies for reducing homelessness and assisting individuals experiencing homelessness transition into permanent housing. Just last month, the City launched Everyone Home Long Beach. This new citywide initiative is designed to streamline processes, create cohesiveness, and draw more attention to the many projects and programs already in place surrounding homelessness and housing. It will also examine new approaches to addressing the linked challenges of homelessness and housing affordability. The City has also convened a new Everyone Home Long Beach taskforce comprised of Chief Executive Officers and community leaders from major Long Beach institutions and organizations. The task force will review existing efforts to transition people back into housing and homeless services, identify new opportunities to support those who need housing, and develop solutions to prevent homelessness in the first place. The first task force meeting convened today, June 15, 2018, at California State University, Long Beach, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.
The State’s actions today provide a timely and significant one-time infusion of resources to the City of Long Beach and the Long Beach Continuum of Care in FY 19. The primary focus of these funds will be to establish a year-round shelter for those experiencing homelessness in Long Beach. Long Beach currently has access to 259 shelter beds which are provided by the Long Beach Rescue Mission and Catholic Charities, however the need exceeds that number, leaving the City’s homeless population to seek shelter elsewhere. Establishing a year-round shelter could possibly provide over 45,500 bed nights a year and serve 125 people per night.
Legislative language enacted to provide for these funds is clear – this is one-time funding, for which the City will be required to submit a plan to the California Department Housing and Community Development (HCD). HCD will approve allocations for one-time uses. City staff is currently working on a robust list of recommended one-time expenditures, inclusive but not limited to: a year-round shelter; storage and transportation to support the shelter; innovation grants to organizations supporting new services and approaches to homelessness, including youth experiencing homelessness; enhanced rapid response to individuals experiencing homelessness; and a pilot program to fund work opportunities for individuals experiencing homelessness.
The State’s provision of funds to the City will require Long Beach to declare a homelessness crisis. The Long Beach City Council is scheduled to take this action on in the coming weeks.
About the City of Long Beach
Home to approximately 480,000 people, the multiple award-winning and innovative City of Long Beach offers all the world-class amenities of a large metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods nestled together along the California coast. As a full-service charter city, Long Beach is home to the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, several museums and theaters, a highly-rated school district, Long Beach Airport, the Port of Long Beach, as well as many award-winning City departments such as Health, Parks, Recreation and Marine, Development Services and more. The City also has a highly-respected university and city college, two historic ranchos, five hospitals, five golf courses, 170 parks, miles of beaches, marinas, bike paths, and a Bike Share program.
For more information about the City of Long Beach, visit http://longbeach.gov/. Follow us on social to keep up with the latest news: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.