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Hundreds of Local Leaders Attend Homelessness Policy Workshop in Sacramento

November 12, 2019
More than 350 city and county elected officials and staff traveled to Sacramento on Nov. 4 to participate in the League of California Cities – California State Association of Counties (CSAC) Joint Homelessness Policy Workshop. The event focused on funding opportunities, city and county-tested best practices, building community partnerships and engagement, and state-level efforts and coordination to address the state’s growing homeless crisis.
 
The importance of collaboration and communication at all levels of government was the common theme of the day, which featured opening remarks from League President and Town of Yountville Mayor John F. Dunbar, who reiterated the challenges cities and counties have faced in trying to address this issue.
 
“For years, cities and counties have been at the forefront of responding to this crisis, providing shelter beds and behavioral services, partnering with local nonprofits and faith based groups and working together to help homeless youth, families, seniors and veterans,” said Dunbar.
 
“Experience shows that there is not just one path to homelessness; similarly, we know that there is also no single path to reducing the number of homeless and unsheltered people in our communities. However, the key to finding solutions to house our homeless residents is communication and collaboration at all levels of government.”
 
The full day workshop was a continuation of the partnership between the League and CSAC to find solutions to house California’s homeless, which began with the 2017 formation of the Joint Homelessness Task Force, and the release of the 2018 Task Force Report: Tools and Resources for Cities and Counties. The joint chairs of the task force, League Immediate Past President and Grass Valley Council Member Jan Arbuckle and Yolo County Supervisor Oscar Villegas, kicked-off the day of panels and provided an overview of the key findings and recommendations from the report.
 
“As our report details, no single local government agency has the resources to solve the homelessness crisis on its own,” said Arbuckle. “It is critical for cities and counties and the state to collaborate on programs that help people living on the streets or those vulnerable to homelessness.”
 
The workshop also featured a presentation from the Homelessness Coordinating and Financing Council, which highlighted best practices, application requirements and case studies of different jurisdictions that have received funding from two main sources of state funding for homelessness – Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) and the Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention Program (HHAP).  
 
The afternoon discussions focused on scalable examples of cities, counties, housing authorities and community organizations who have worked together to implement programs that help homeless Californians in their communities. One panel, moderated by Philip Mangano, chief executive officer of the American Round Table to Abolish Homelessness, featured six examples from the San Bernardino region. The second panel highlighted collaborative and innovative efforts in San Jose and Santa Clara County that have greatly increased the region’s capacity to help their homeless population.
 
The final panel featured a robust conversation between the leaders of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Council of Regional Homeless Advisors: Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly, City of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. The discussion centered around on the main directives of the council: develop recommendations to end street homelessness, break down barriers to building more housing and get more people into treatment.
 
The workshop featured a diverse group of local government stakeholders from all areas of the state, but the day ended with the agreement that collaboration, coordination and commitment are critical to the success of these efforts to house California’s homeless. The agenda, and all slide content from the Homelessness Policy Workshop can be found on the League’s website.


 
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