- California Gov. Gavin Newsom is encouraging cities and counties in his state to embark on 100-day challenges to mitigate homelessness. In return, communities will receive access to a portion of funding from the state's $650 million in total emergency homeless aid.
- Newsom said cities can access the funding by setting and achieving short-term homelessness mitigation goals that could help to develop sustainable program models in the future. "People are frustrated. We're frustrated," Newsom said during a press conference. "This problem can be solved... We want to inspire community action at the local, county and regional level."
- The governor suggested that the 100-day challenge initiatives might target specific populations — such as veterans or seniors — but he stopped short of giving specific examples of what the challenges should entail. "We're not prescribing what the goals are," he said, explaining that the challenges should be tailored to each community's individual needs.
For years, many communities have adopted 100-day challenges as a solution to tackle homelessness. The approach often targets sectors of the population that have experienced notable growth in homelessness or those that have struggled to defeat the problem. A Way Home America recently applauded numerous communities — including Hennepin County, MN; Las Vegas; Louisville, KY; Miami; and Prince George's County, MD — for adopting 100-day challenges to end youth homelessness. The National Alliance to End Homelessness also works with various communities on similar 100-day challenges.
Newsom acknowledged that the concept has been tried in California communities before. However, the idea had not yet taken hold on a widespread scale throughout the state. Communities now have the added incentive to receive state funds for a 100-day challenge.
Newsom cited Sacramento as one city already stepping up to a 100-day challenge, pledging to build up to 100 new housing units for people experiencing homelessness. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg joined Newsom at the press conference and talked about securing the land necessary to build new units.
Addressing the spread of homelessness and related housing affordability problems in California has been a flagship cause for Newsom since he took office earlier this year. The $650 million of emergency aid included in the 2019-2020 budget is a portion of the nearly $1.8 billion total reserved for homelessness and housing affordability programs. Upon signing off on the budget this summer, Newsom made clear that cities not in compliance with a state law that sets housing goals will face monthly fines. Early this year, he ordered legal action against Huntington Beach for not complying with the state's affordable housing requirements.
The 100-day challenge underscores the sense of urgency for the problem, and the state is "going to be driving these challenges more aggressively" than past efforts, he said.
"I want to see results," Newsom said. "This... is really an amplification effort, with precision and real accountability and outcomes, that goes against the traditional model."
Cities throughout California have stepped up their attention to homelessness in recent years as it has reached what many leaders call crisis levels. The Los Angeles City Council adopted a measure to improve the process and funding structure for developing permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals. L.A. experienced a 12% increase in the number of people living on the streets, in vehicles or in homeless shelters between 2018 and 2019. This summer, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti detailed the ways L.A. would use some of the state money to fight homelessness and said that it is one of the hardest issues to confront.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed also has made homelessness mitigation and affordable housing top priorities since taking office in 2018. Last year she proposed putting an unexpected $415 million property tax windfall toward homelessness and affordable housing initiatives. She also made a one-time, $1 million commitment over two years to fund city-assisted homeless shelters.
City efforts to address homelessness increasingly are moving away from a shelter approach toward a more holistic approach. Newsom's 100-day challenge initiative encourages cities to make immediate changes that could shape success with the situation in the long run.