Democrats Confront Governor Over Missing $20B in Homelessness Funds

( – California Democrats are expressing frustration with Governor Gavin Newsom’s homelessness council, which has failed to track the effectiveness of billions of dollars spent on addressing the homelessness crisis over the past five years.

During a budget committee hearing on Monday, Democratic Assemblymember Phil Ting voiced concerns about the lack of accountability and transparency regarding the funds allocated for homelessness programs. Ting emphasized the importance of knowing how many people have been assisted and how many have been taken off the streets.

Officials from the California Interagency Council on Homelessness (CICH) acknowledged that they are facing challenges with data quality, making it difficult to provide metrics on the impact of over $20 billion spent since the council’s establishment.

Assemblymember Ting expressed frustration, questioning how billions of dollars could have been spent without clear evidence of the outcomes achieved.

Megan Kirkeby, deputy director for the California Department of Housing and Community Development, admitted that the state had not previously required rigorous tracking of spending or program effectiveness, describing it as something to be ashamed of.

CICH, responsible for coordinating the state’s homeless programs, attempted to shift blame to local cities, claiming that municipalities are primarily responsible for implementing programs and collecting outcome data.

With California facing a significant budget deficit, lawmakers from both parties are concerned that the lack of accountability could hinder efforts to address the homelessness crisis effectively. California has the highest number of homeless individuals in the nation, with over 181,000 people living on the streets.

In response to the audit’s findings, Governor Newsom emphasized the importance of enforcing progressive housing laws and announced plans to expand enforcement measures to hold cities accountable for meeting housing goals. Despite these efforts, some businesses, like the Sunset Sound recording studio in Hollywood, have taken matters into their own hands by installing large planters to deter homeless encampments.

Meanwhile, the City of Fresno received $6 million in state funding to support its efforts in providing housing and assistance to the homeless population. Mayor Jerry Dyer praised the partnership with the state and reaffirmed the city’s commitment to addressing homelessness as a top priority.

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