Big City Mayors Welcome State Money For Homeless Services

3 min
A homeless man sleeps at his encampment on a downtown sidewalk in Los Angeles. (Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images)

The recently signed California state budget includes $500 million in one-time money to help cities address homelessness. The money will be split between local organizations that help the homeless as well as cities with more than 330,000 people.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg  serves as Chairman of the Big 11 Mayors, a coalition representing the state's largest cities. He said the money will be crucial for programs to fight homelessness.

"Every major California city has seen these dramatic increases [in homelessness]," he said. "And while at the local level we are all putting together resources, either through ballot measures, our cities' general fund, [or] our work with our respective counties, the fact of the matter is we need more capacity."

Steinberg said there's an especially acute need for emergency housing, the place people stay between leaving the streets and settling into a permanent home. The money can also be used for early intervention and other steps to prevent homelessness.

"I know in Sacramento we are going to put as much focus on those who are not yet homeless but will be if we don't have a robust rental assistance program," he said, "and if we don't intervene at the right time to help them avoid the shelter and ultimately the streets."

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Steinberg's goal is to get 2,000 people off the streets in Sacramento. The other cities receiving money include San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, Fresno, Bakersfield, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Anaheim and San Jose. It's estimated there are about 135,000 homeless people living in California.

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