The state has spent billions of dollars on homelessness in recent years. So why is the crisis getting worse instead of better?
That’s what a bipartisan group of California legislators is trying to get to the bottom of by calling for a first-of-its kind, large-scale audit of the state’s homelessness spending.
The state has stepped up its involvement and investment in the crisis under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s leadership, allocating $20.6 billion toward housing and homelessness since 2018-19, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. But despite the influx of cash, during that time, the number of unhoused people in the state has increased by nearly a third — to more than 170,000 as of last year.
That discrepancy between what’s being spent in Sacramento and what voters see — tent cities in their neighborhoods — has many legislators clamoring for an accounting. They have instructed the state auditor to embark on a sweeping project that will analyze multiple state homelessness programs — as well as focus on homelessness spending in two cities — in an attempt to improve California’s response.