Op-Ed: California homelessness funding is on the chopping block. Will it make the final budget?

An unhoused encampment on a sidewalk in Downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 18, 2023. Pablo Unzueta for CalMatters
An unhoused encampment on a sidewalk in Downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 18, 2023. Pablo Unzueta for CalMatters

By Dan Walters, Calmatters

It’s the billion-dollar question. That’s how much cities and other local governments have been receiving from the state each year to deal with California’s ever-increasing population of homeless people.

But after five years, will the aid from Sacramento continue as Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders try to close a massive state budget deficit?

Newsom has been critical of local homelessness efforts and his newly revised 2024-25 budget not only pulls back an extra $260 million that local officials had counted on receiving this year, based on meeting specific goals. The proposal doesn’t include anything for another year.

“I know that may not sit well with some,” Newsom said as he released the revision last month, “but we’re struggling with seeing the performance I want to see on the streets.”

Last week, legislative leaders released their own version of the budget. Pointedly, it includes $1 billion to continue the grants to local agencies for a sixth year.

Local officials, particularly those from major cities where homelessness is most evident, are doing what they can to have the $1 billion included in the final budget that Newsom and legislative leaders must pass by next week.

“We cannot abandon this progress now,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, chair of the California Big City Mayors coalition, as he and other mayors issued a public plea. Without it, Gloria said, “the progress that we were making will vanish,” citing  consequences of closing shelters and other programs financed by the grant program.

“In short, it will be a disaster.”


Written by CalMatters

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. (Articles are published in partnership with edhat.com)

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  1. There is a progression and false narrative with this issue called “homelessness”… it makes one think of those who are in an unfortunate position in life, not due to anything they have had control over… Some NASTY rich landlord, throwing in those down and out… The reality of that does not apply to at least 90% of the “homeless”. They are “homeless” because they choose not to participate in society as what has been embraced in this country for decades… “Strong work ethic, strong morals and a backbone of personal responsibility”, Unfortunately, it has become acceptable in our current society to reject all attributes that made one successful. Instead, we embrace “live your own life, regardless of how you choose to… No matter the consequences, we will respect you.” Instead of identifying as a drug addict, alcoholic or drop out, we’ll refer to you a “Homeless”. Then, after years of abusing your body and not conforming to go to all the free rehabilitation and moving on successfully in life, when your mind is fried, we, as a society, will embrace you by calling it a “Mental Health Issue” and find you more funding for your chosen “lifestyle”. Please tell me When and WHY the DNA of American human beings with “mental health issues” have gone up 1000x’s in 20 years… Anyone…? Bueller….?

    • COAST – that’s 90% figure is an outright made up lie, once again.

      You Cons just can’t help it, can you? Are you all this dishonest? In what world does lying seem like a good idea? Why do you do it so much?

    • So you totally have the right to rant incoherently with made-up numbers like “90%” and unsourced quotes, injecting your own half-baked social theories based on your on inhumanity and lack of compassion, mocking mental illness, contributing less-than-zero and demanding *someone* answer the rhetorical questions you casually fling around. You totally have that right, and we all the complementary right to call you on it. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should, unless you’re just desperate for people to know the “real CoastWatch”. In other words, thanks for nothing.

  2. I am a baby boomer, over 70, female and still working. It GALLS me to see YOUNG, ABLE-BODIED people BEGGING!!! GET A JOB! Start contributing to society rather than taking.
    Of course, I feel the truly mentally ill need help and I saddened to know that ACLU shut down the asylums.
    I is SHAMEFUL to see truly mentally ill people homeless.
    I have a sister who is schizophrenic and the best thing that happened to her was committing a crime that got her institutionalized. She is safe and getting help.

    • It’s really sad reading comments like yours that reveal such a dearth of understanding about human society. I don’t see how you can so readily lump so many people that you know nothing about into one or the other of two clichéd pigeonholes: 1) lazy or 2) mentally ill.

      Of course there are both of these types of people who are without fixed residences, but there are so many more complex circumstances that lead to homelessness, and even for these two categories you show zero actual understanding of the problem. “Get a job?” The obstacles they face are so far beyond this facile suggestion.
      Mental institutions, which the ACLU did have a role in shutting down is another vastly more complex situation. Some did good work, perhaps, but the ones that were shut down were profit-driven hellholes rife with all manner of horrifying abuses taking place, and people were literally locked in against their will. In CA Governor Ronald Reagan shut down hundreds of them to save money, and the advances in medications in the last 60 years has obviously been significant. They’re just not as necessary as they used to be.

    • ANON – the only thing that shut down asylums and forced therapy is the US Constitution.

      Have you ever spoken to the people begging for money? Do you know each of their stories? If not, please save your assumptions.

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