OAKLAND – Just days after Bay Area counties released their homeless point-in-time figures showing significant increases in their homeless populations, California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced the formation of the Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force and its co-chairs, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
Earlier this month, Newsom released his May budget revision which included an unprecedented $1 billion to fight California’s homelessness crisis. The budget would increase emergency aid for local jurisdictions, make money available to cities and counties directly and fund permanent supportive housing or innovative approaches like motel and hotel conversions.
“No Californian can say homelessness is someone else’s problem – it affects us all,” Newsom said in a statement. “Homelessness is a matter of statewide concern, but solutions will come from the local level. Mayors, county supervisors and city councils around the state are working hard to reduce homelessness and its underlying causes. We’ll be watching these local and regional solutions closely, to lend a hand and help them scale.”
The Governor announced the new Task Force after touring a hotel conversion site in downtown Oakland that is now the Henry Robinson Multi-Service Center transitional housing facility.
Standing alongside Mayor Steinberg, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly, the Governor met with formerly homeless individuals and underscored the importance of state-local partnerships to combat homelessness.
“The growing problem of homelessness is nothing less than a humanitarian, public health, safety and economic crisis facing California,” Steinberg said. “I’m looking forward to working closely with Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and the administration of Gov. Newsom to develop comprehensive recommendations for how we can get thousands of people off the streets and into housing, and also help prevent thousands more from slipping into homelessness.”
The Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force will meet a number of times throughout the year in cities and counties around the state to observe best practices firsthand and receive input from governments and constituents statewide to propose solutions to address the homelessness epidemic. The Governor will announce additional members of the Task Force and future meeting dates and locations in the coming weeks.
“I look forward to partnering with California Governor Gavin Newsom, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and other members of this Task Force to ensure that the State of California steps up its efforts in confronting the defining civic and moral crises of our time,” Ridley-Thomas said. “It is time for all levels of government to intensify our efforts, and take urgent and swift action to combat homelessness.”
Newsom also named psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Tom Insel as a key advisor providing insight in developing strategies to address mental health issues. Insel is a nationally recognized leader in the science of mental health and evidence-based practices to assist people suffering from various conditions.
Working with Ghaly, Insel will inform the state’s work as California builds the mental health system of tomorrow, serving people whether they are living in the community, on the streets or if they are in jails, schools or shelters.
Insel served as director of the National Institute of Mental Health, the component of the National Institutes of Health committed to research on mental disorders. Prior to serving as NIMH director, he was a professor of psychiatry at Emory University, where he was founding director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience in Atlanta.
Insel led the Mental Health Team at Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) in South San Francisco and, most recently, has served as co-founder and president of Mindstrong Health. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
Homelessness is a matter of statewide concern most efficiently and effectively addressed at the local level through deep regional collaboration. The Task Force 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.
The Task Force should guide local governments as they develop joint regional plans to address homelessness.
The Task Force will deliver at least one annual report to the governor on the work it performed to guide the creation of joint regional plans to address homelessness, including highlighting best practices and model programs at the local level.