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| Wednesday, Jul 17, 2019
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is creating a task force on homelessness as the state grapples with a housing crisis, May 21, 2019. | KTVU screencap.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on May 21 that he would create a task force on homelessness as the state grapples with a housing crisis. | KTVU screencap.

 

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced the names of the regional leaders and statewide experts who will advise his administration on solutions to address the state’s homelessness epidemic.

The announcement follows the governor’s signing of the 2019-20 state budget, which includes a historic $1 billion investment in the fight against homelessness.

Once convened, these leaders will join Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in meetings across the state to assist local governments in crafting their regional strategies to address homelessness, with a particular focus on homelessness prevention and early intervention.

Recent homeless data shows the cost crisis is a major driver of homelessness as many Californians struggle to afford rent.

As the state invests historic amounts of money in homelessness, including for shelters and mental health services, there remains a great need to slow or stop the in-flow of people becoming homeless in the first place.

The governor also announced plans to appoint working groups of other regional leaders, service providers, formerly homeless people and academics around specific geographies or issues affecting homelessness, to work in collaboration with these advisors. These working groups may include experts on mental health, street homelessness or rural homelessness. Selection of working groups will be made in the coming weeks.

The group announced it will hold its first three regional convenings in the months ahead: August in the Central Valley, September in Southern California and October in Northern California. Exact dates, locations and working group presenters will be announced closer to the meeting times.

“It’s time we stop talking about the homelessness crisis and start acting,” Newsom said. “This is a crisis that affects all of California – from rural and urban communities to coastal and inland cities. We need to work collectively to source local solutions from mayors, county supervisors and city councils and implement those solutions at scale statewide.”

The full list of advisors includes seven elected officials and six institutional representatives:

* Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Co-Chair
* Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Co-Chair
* Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf
* Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria
* San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher
* Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez
* Arcata City Councilmember Sofia Pereira
* County Welfare Directors Association of California Executive Director Frank Mecca
* Corporation for Supportive Housing Associate Director Sharon Rapport
* Western Center on Law and Poverty Policy Advocate Anya Lawler
* County Behavioral Health Directors Association Executive Director Michelle Cabrera
* Former U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Director Philip Mangano
* Former Department of Social Services Director Will Lightbourne

“I want to thank Governor Newsom for assembling some of the best minds in the state to find solutions to the gravest social, economic and public safety problem we face. Our challenge is to not only identify the best ways to house those who are currently homeless, but also find a way to staunch the flow of thousands of people becoming homeless in California each year,” Steinberg said.

The advisors will examine best practices relating to prevention, diversion and intervention, as well as guide local governments as they develop regional plans to address homelessness.

“I look forward to partnering with Governor Gavin Newsom, Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and other regional leaders and experts to ensure that the State of California steps up in strategic ways to confront this deepening and dynamic crisis,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “It is time for all levels of government to intensify our efforts, and take urgent swift and consistent action to combat homelessness.”

Last month, the Governor signed his first state budget, which includes a historic $1 billion investment in the fight against homelessness. In May, Governor Newsom visited Oakland with Mayor Steinberg and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, where he met with formerly homeless individuals and underscored the importance of state-local partnerships to combat homelessness. Advisors will consult with local and regional governments around the state to assess best practices and strategies to increase the production of Navigation Centers, positive housing exits and information sharing.

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