California to invest $12 billion to support homeless and mentally challenged residents

This Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a series of bills into law to address the crisis of homelessness and residents suffering from mental health issues and experiencing homelessness. 

That strategy, Newsom said this morning, will complement a housing plan that will make $12 billion available to provide access to health care for Californians in need.

"We must implement bold and transformative solutions, investing more money than ever to get people off the street and provide mental health and other services," the governor said.

He added that the current legislation "will allow us to address the crisis in a way that California has never done."

Among the bills signed into law were those to increase coordination and accountability of state homeless spending, including Assemblywoman Luz Rivas' AB 1220, which reforms the former Homeless Coordination and Funding Council, renaming it the California Interagency Council on Homelessness, which seeks to strengthen the powers of this body through new data mandates and oversight authorities. 

In addition, this new Council, which will be co-chaired by Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramirez, will link housing and health care.

The California Interagency Council on Homelessness will also be the entity responsible for receiving, reviewing and ultimately approving homeless plans submitted by cities, counties and Continuums of Care agencies.

Going forward, local governments must commit to measurable goals through six standardized metrics and move toward meeting or exceeding them in order to receive their full share of Homeless Housing, Homeless Assistance and Prevention Program (HHAP) funding. 

Governor Newsom required this new accountability as part of the multi-million dollar investment in homelessness and worked with the Legislature to craft these new oversight laws.

Thus, California is investing $22 billion to address the homelessness and housing affordability crisis, with $12 billion allocated for homelessness and behavioral health services.

Combined, the funds will lead to the creation of more than 84,000 new homes for Californians, including more than 44,000 new treatment units and beds for people in need. 

The new funding also includes $5.8 billion to add more than 35,000 new housing units through Homekey, a national model for homelessness.

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