Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Cristina Garcia on State Auditor’s Report on Homelessness

Thursday, February 11, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California State Auditor’s Office released “Homelessness in California: The State’s Uncoordinated Approach to Addressing Homelessness Has Hampered the Effectiveness of Its Efforts,” a report that was requested by Assemblymembers Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) and Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) on January 31, 2020, to examine and survey the lead agencies of five Continuum of Care (CoC) areas and obtain a perspective of best practices for homeless services across the State.

“Homeless Californians and their communities need help now, and this report demonstrates that we have a long way to go,” Asm. Rivas said. “Clearly, there is a failure of communication and collaboration between the State and local agencies, which is preventing the necessary information and data from reaching State agencies in charge of tackling homelessness. As a lawmaker and as a representative of four different counties that collectively have over 14,500 homeless people, I find this to be unacceptable. Departments, like the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council, need to have the data, funding, and authority necessary to make tangible recommendations with urgency. It is also unacceptable that the Homeless Council, first created in 2017, has not yet released any priorities or timeline for ameliorating this homelessness epidemic, which will undoubtedly worsen as a result of COVID-19 and the subsequent recession.”

California currently has 43 CoC areas that cover the entire state and each lead agency of a CoC is responsible for planning the administration of homeless services.  The responsibility and relationship between the lead agency and the CoC is crucial.  The CoC program promotes commitment within our communities to the goal of ending homelessness.  They provide funding for efforts by non-profit providers, and State and local government to rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused to homeless individuals, families, and communities by homelessness.  They also promote access and awareness of programs used by homeless individuals and families and optimize self-sufficiency among individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

“The State Auditor’s report on homelessness unfortunately shows a system mired in bureaucracy, inefficiency, and clear lack of coordination,” said Asm. Cristina Garcia. “Our taxpayers and communities across California who are desperately trying to solve the homeless crisis in a compassionate and timely manner expect and deserve better. I look forward to supporting legislation recommended in the audit to ensure our state’s Homeless Coordinating and Financial Council is collecting uniform data and coordinating best past practices between the state, CoCs, and local governments. In addition, we must ensure the Homeless Coordinating and Financial Council has enforcement authority to ensure accountability for jurisdictions that fail to meet the statutory goals.”

In the report, the Auditor’s Office found:

  1. The State Has Struggled to Coordinate Its Efforts to Address Homelessness
  2. The State Does Not Have Centralized Funding Information and Program Data to Combat Homelessness
  3.  CoCs Do Not Always Employ Best Practices to Improve Homelessness Services in Their Areas

For a summary of the report, visit: http://auditor.ca.gov/reports/2020-112/summary.html