What is the state doing about homelessness?

Gov. Gavin Newsom joins a cleanup effort in Los Angeles on May 11, 2021. Newsom proposed $12 billion in new funding to get more people experiencing homelessness in the state into housing and to "functionally end family homelessness" within five years. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Gov. Gavin Newsom joins a cleanup effort in Los Angeles on May 11, 2021. Newsom proposed $12 billion in new funding to get more people experiencing homelessness in the state into housing and to “functionally end family homelessness” within five years. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

California spent about $13 billion over the last three years to address homelessness, with few visible results. A scathing state auditor’s report from February points to a main culprit: a lack of coordination and accountability across the complicated web of state agencies and local counties, cities and service providers.

But data from service providers across the state says more than 91,000 people moved from homelessness into permanent housing in 2020. State officials are hoping that number will be even higher in the coming years, after committing a record-breaking $12 billion in the 2021-22 budget to homelessness.

The biggest line item in the budget is Project Homekey, an initiative started during the pandemic in which local governments bought and renovated 94 hotels and motels into about 6,000 permanent housing units. Funding for that was tripled in 2021, jumping from $846 million to $2.75 billion. Another $2.2 billion over the next three years will go to create behavioral health facilities. Local jurisdictions also got $2 billion in annual funding over two years, which they will be able to spend flexibly on their specific needs.