Will California spend $20 billion on homelessness?

Publication: San Jose Mercury

Bay Area mayors push for historic five-year investment

Bay Area mayors on Thursday urged the state to do something unprecedented — spend $20 billion in a multi-year effort to combat California’s massive homelessness crisis.

Their proposal would dedicate $4 billion every year for five years to continue the historic efforts California has made to house and shelter people during the pandemic. That sum would be roughly half of the state’s projected 2021 budget surplus, when factoring in $26 billion California was allocated in federal stimulus money.

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Democrats in both the state Assembly and Senate also are backing the proposal, and called for the $20 billion, five-year investment when they released their 2021 budget priorities earlier this month.

“Since the pandemic began, we’ve invested even more state money for homelessness and prevention,” Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, wrote in an emailed statement. “But to have meaningful and ongoing impact, the Legislative Analyst Office says we need a long-term strategy.”

If approved, it would be the largest allocation of funds dedicated to fighting homelessness in U.S. history, according to the mayors.