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Make HHAP happen...permanently, say Big City Mayors

For KVCR News, I’m Jessica Greenwell.

There’s been a lot of news in the world of housing and homelessness of late; in legislation and significant funding announcements over the last several weeks.

California’s Big City Mayors ask for HHAP (Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention) grant funding to become permanent.

In the state of California, where one-third of the country’s homeless population resides, voters narrowly passed Proposition 1 in March. Prop 1 amends the Mental Health Services Act, and authorizes the state to borrow up to 6.4 billion dollars to build facilities where for mental health or addiction treatment, and build permanent supportive housing for those individuals facing these challenges.

Some opponents of the legislation feared that projects making meaningful progress could potentially lose funding, or that funding in general is not producing affective results.

In early April, the results of a statewide Homelessness Audit were released. The audit was requested by a bipartisan group of legislators, including, Republican State Senator of Yucaipa, Rocilcie Ochoa-Bogh.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria addressed that audit at a press conference in Sacramento a couple weeks back.

GLORIA: As you all know, the state auditor, a few weeks ago, issued a report that looked at how the state, and two cities, including my own, were performing in regard to state homelessness funding. That audit recommended that we provide better data to show the impacts this funding is having. Last week Governor Newsom announced new steps to better track data, with regard to spending, and to hold recipients of this funding accountable. I want to be clear, that we, as mayors, welcome this accountability. It the state finds local agencies are sitting on funding, or not spending it wisely, then they shouldn’t get that funding anymore. Plain and simple.

That was Gloria, at a press conference where the Big City Mayors, a 13-member coalition of California’s largest cities, representing over 11-million Californians, gathered to share data, give examples of the progress in their cities, and had a powerful ask.

GLORIA: Today, we are here to urge state leaders, to fully fund HHAP Round Six, at no less than 1-billion dollars. Perhaps more importantly, we are asking state decision-makers to make this funding permanent.

The urgency of continued funding that is level and permanent was stated by each mayor specifically, along with specifics about the progress being made in each of their cities.

Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson, who is also part of the coalition, spoke at the press conference and provided some local data.

LOCK DAWSON: One of the focuses that I’ve had in my office, was our transitional-aged youth. That’s low-hanging fruit. If we can keep them from becoming homeless in the first place, they’d stand a much better chance of a hopeful future. And, I just got data this morning, that just in the last year and a half, we’ve reduced youth homelessness in the City of Riverside by seventy-three present. Seventy-three percent…. (Mmm). Seventy-three percent.

And, also in the City of Riverside, chronic homelessness was also down. By twelve percent.

Mayor Gloria added that a full report, of the data and progress made with HHAP funding, was being made available to the public and decision-makers.

Next week, I will be in conversation with Jeff Gaddess, Vice President of Programs and Partnerships with Dignity Moves, an organization that builds interim supportive housing, and partners with service agencies and lawmakers. Dignity Moves is also the developer working with the City of San Bernardino and Lutheran Social Services to expand an existing men’s facility in San Bernardino, to offer additional interim supportive housing and across the board support services. We discuss the success of strategic partnerships, which have evolved from a need to address barriers preventing progress, the importance of retention, and the need to educate the public about complex behavioral health and substance abuse issues.

For KVCR News, I’m Jessica Greenwell.