SACRAMENTO – A measure by Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, to strengthen The Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council unanimously passed the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee Wednesday.
Senate Bill 792 (SB 792) stems from a report by the California State Auditor, Elaine Howle, who, at the request of Wilk and Assemblyman Tom Lackey, investigated California’s efforts to solve the homeless problem and found woeful inadequacies detailed in the scathing report.
“The Auditor outlined glaring deficiencies in California’s approach to homelessness,” Wilk said. “This bill will begin to correct some of those issues and steer our state in a better direction in addressing our homeless crisis. We cannot just give lip service to this issue. California needs to do something to help the homeless and our communities struggling to address this growing problem.”
Among Auditor Howle’s recommendations was that the Council be funded fully. Wilk’s request for funding earlier this year was included in the state budget. The Auditor’s next recommendation was for the Legislature to require the Council “to develop and implement a statewide strategic plan for addressing homelessness in California, including goals and objectives and timelines for achieving them, and metrics for measuring their achievements.”
Senate Bill 792 fully implements that recommendation.
“Not so long ago the Antelope Valley, in my district, did not experience the large scale homeless issues seen in more central parts of LA County. But now, the AV is home to over 3,000 homeless individuals,” Wilk said. “The problem is growing, and spreading, and according to the state auditor we must take a statewide approach to coordinating a solution. That is my goal with SB 792.”
The Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council was created in 2016 to coordinate the state’s approach to homelessness but was never allocated the funding necessary to hire staff or accomplish its intended purpose.
Wilk’s funding request will pay for itself as the Council is able to help local agencies get more organized and receive additional funding from the federal government through its Department of Housing and Urban Development. Senate Bill 792 will give the Council direction and goals to ensure the efficient use of these taxpayer dollars.
“I am thankful to the state auditor for digging deep into our actions, and lack thereof, on this issue and laying out in her report a pathway forward,” Wilk said. “SB 792 will ensure the Council embarks down a path that will best address homelessness in California and get the biggest bang for the buck for the taxpayers.”
SB 792 will now go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for a hearing sometime in August.