SAN DIEGO – San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria is joining mayors from across the state in a push for more money to address the homelessness crisis.
Gloria and nine other big-city mayors were in Sacramento Monday stating their case for program funding to help California’s unhoused residents. Specifically, they’re calling on state lawmakers to extend funds paid out of the Homeless Housing Assistance and Prevention, or HHAP, program, slated to run out in June at the end of the state’s fiscal year.
Speaking to FOX 5’s Raoul Martinez Tuesday, Gloria said the city netted $70 million from HHAP, which was used to expand its street outreach program, grow local shelter capacity and create housing opportunities.
“The state’s commitment was for three years. That’s coming to an end,” Gloria said. “As a mayor, myself and my colleagues are asking the state to continue this particular program because we don’t want to see the gains we’ve made be lost and we certainly don’t want to lose ground on this problem, which is growing rapidly.”
Gloria added, “We can’t deal with less resources. We actually need more.”
In his State of the City Address this year, Gloria called homelessness his “highest priority,” urging the city to build greater shelter bed capacity and more housing opportunities. But the homelessness issue comes with lots of complexities, challenging leaders from both parties for years in California.
It was repeatedly mentioned by critics of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in last year’s failed recall election.
Some 1,400 volunteers went out in February throughout San Diego County to count and speak to homeless people in the region. The last count in 2020 identified about 7,600 people experiencing homelessness between those living in shelters and on the streets, one of the largest populations of any city in the U.S. The totals from the most recent count have yet to be released.
For as much as the issue has vexed area leaders, Gloria said it would have been worse if the city hadn’t expanded its shelter capacity by hundreds of beds and had safe parking sites available to them.
“In terms of why this is happening, the simple fact of the matter is that more people are entering homelessness than are exiting,” he said. “Whether that’s for income inequality, rising housing costs, illness, mental illness, substance use — there’s a multitude of reasons why people find their way on the streets.
“As a mayor, that’s not my concern. My concern is to make sure they get off the streets fast.”
Gloria and the nine other mayors met with Newsom at the State Capitol Building and delivered to him a letter urging the governor not to let funding expire. They want HHAP funded for an additional $1 billion a year for the next three fiscal years, FOX 5’s sister station KTXL reported Monday.
Newsom’s office did not respond to a KTXL request for comment on if he supports the budget request.
If it’s not renewed, Gloria said the city doesn’t simply have $70 million laying around. The money would have to come from the city’s general fund, which would mean homelessness programs would compete with other funding priorities such as road paving and police salaries, the mayor said.
“We would probably find some way to manage for some of these programs, but certainly not all of them,” he said. “That’s precisely why this is necessary. We can’t start taking a step back from what we’ve been doing. Again, the problem is growing. We can’t allow it to grow with less resources.”
FOX 5’s Raoul Martinez contributed to this report.