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Home / karen bass

Lock Dawson, Bass join mayors to request state homeless funding

Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson and eight other mayors from some of the state’s most populous cities went to Sacramento on Tuesday to request that the state continue its $1 billion investment in addressing the homelessness crisis.

In meetings with leaders that included Gov. Gavin Newsom and Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, the mayors advocated for no cuts and consistent, permanent funding to the state’s Homeless, Housing Assistance, and Prevention program. 

“California’s Big City Mayors are in Sacramento to collectively advocate for the protection of direct funding to cities to address homelessness,” Lock Dawson said in a statement to the Riverside Independent. “In Riverside, we’ve seen a high return on this investment with a 12% reduction of chronic homelessness and a 73% reduction in youth homelessness. Amidst a challenging budget year, protecting these investments means protecting our progress, maintaining our services, and preventing more people and families from falling into homelessness.”

The state has given direct grants to local governments to implement homelessness programs since 2018. 

“Give us the money and we invest it, and the state gets a great return on investment,” Lock Dawson said at a press briefing Tuesday. “In the city of Riverside for every dollar of state funding we get, we put in $3 of local funding. So that money is leveraged, it’s not just disappearing somewhere. … 

“Our efforts to secure consistent HHAP funding remains our top priority collectively as the mayors representing 11 million residents in the cities of California,” the mayor said. 

Lock Dawson also noted the apparent deepening of the state’s homelessness crisis.

“In Riverside, for every person we help exit homelessness, six more become homeless,” she said. “That’s why our work is not done here.”

The mayor highlighted successes in addressing homelessness in Riverside, including programs focused on preventing youth homelessness and helping families transition out of homelessness and insecure housing.

In November the city announced a $4.375 million state grant to help purchase up to five homes to create 25 units of housing for young people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Riverside’s grant was part of $156.4 million to help municipalities add more housing for homeless or at-risk individuals and families. 

Statewide, the grants fund 12 projects in six counties to create 556 new affordable homes, according to the city’s announcement. Riverside was the only grant recipient in Inland Southern California.

“We can’t forget these are people, these are not numbers — these are people that need our help,” Lock Dawson said after recounting how HHAP funding enabled the city to move a family into “their safe place, their first home in years.” 

The rehoused family is “no longer a statistic, but testament to successful efforts funded by these state dollars,” Lock Dawson added. “Homelessness is not an unescapable fate if we are intentional and we invest in this issue.”

She said the funds have enabled city officials to expand homeless outreach efforts, reduce encampments, increase shelter capacity and add supportive services, but “all of it remains at risk without a commitment by our state to fund this program ongoing.”

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, who is chair of the Big City Mayors, led Tuesday’s trip to the state Capitol. In addition to Lock Dawson other mayors in the delegation included Karen Bass from Los Angeles; Farah Kahn from Irvine; Karen Goh, Bakersfield; Jerry Dyer, Fresno; Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento; and Kevin Lincoln, Stockton.

The mayors reported that state funds have enabled cities to add 15,722 new emergency shelter beds and interim homes, serve 149,851 people and place 42,215 into housing.

“We can build on this success, but cities need the certainty that a commitment to ongoing state funding will bring,” Gloria said in a statement.

“Together, in partnership with my fellow California Big City Mayors, we will continue to create fundamental change in the way we address the housing and homelessness crisis,” Bass said in a statement. “I know that we will continue strong collaboration with state leaders to protect and expand our progress.”

Kahn noted the need for cities to diligently report the progress they make with the state’s homeless funding. 

“That’s something that you see in the numbers that we’re providing today, and that we’ll continue providing to show how this funding is actually resulting in people being supported, put into housing and given a path forward towards permanent housing,” she told reporters. 

Riverside, the county’s largest city, had the most unhoused residents, 977, according to the county’s 2023 homelessness survey. Riverside County had 3,725 homeless residents, a 12% increase compared with 2022.

The Big City Mayors are a bipartisan group from 13 of California’s largest cities, where more than 25% of the state’s 40 million people reside.

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