SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Bay Area mayors called for increased state funding with a focus on housing production to help address the homelessness in the region and throughout the state, during a California State Assembly subcommittee hearing on Thursday.

The hearing, called the State of Homelessness Funding and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2020 Budget Proposal on Homelessness, in front of the State Assembly Budget Subcommittee was held in San Francisco with San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in attendance.

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“We’ve seen, not only in San Francisco but throughout the state, homelessness has really taken front and center,” said Breed. “It is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. In San Francisco alone we have over 8,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night, and 5,000 people are living unsheltered on streets.

“Everyday when I walk the streets of this city, I witness the suffering, even on my way here to this hearing; the families hustling from the bus stops to the shelters, the young adults forced to set up tents on the sidewalks, the veterans struggling to hold onto their dignity. It has really been challenging to witness and frustrating not to be able to move faster to be able to deal with this crisis,” she said.

“Cities and counties cannot address this crisis alone, we need to work in partnership with the state to allocate the funding required to turn the tide on this crisis,” she said.

With more than 151,000 people experiencing homelessness in California, Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said, “It’s not just a San Francisco or Los Angeles phenomenon… this is an issue that has now

crept into the Central Valley.

“We wanted to make sure this hearing was held in the Bay Area, where we have really felt the crux of this issue for so many years, and now that it has really gotten to the epidemic level across the state, I’m really happy the state has decided to be a critical partner in working to eradicate homelessness in California,” he said.

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Last month, Gov. Newsom signed an executive order to create a $750 million fund for providers statewide to use for rent subsidies and to fund affordable housing or assist residential treatment facilities.

Schaaf said the city of Oakland currently spends about $32 million annually on homelessness, “And roughly half of that is one-time money that we are spending on operations.

“I recognize that that is irresponsible financially, but I believe it is completely necessary morally,” she said.

“My goal is that we don’t need a permanent ongoing source to combat homelessness if we make the capital investments that we need, that will actually get people housed,” said Liccardo.

Schaaf agreed with Liccardo that housing is key in addressing not just homelessness, but addiction and mental health issues.

“We know housing first works; you cannot effectively treat someone’s drug addiction or health ailment until they are stably housed. Housing is health,” Schaaf said.

San Francisco Department of Homelessness Director Jeff Kositsky said, “What we’re trying to do is ration a resource that everyone needs but there’s not enough of. So I really hope the state will focus strongly on the need for more housing, because at the end of day we can have the best systems, the most well-defined systems in the world, but if there’s not enough housing, this will continue to be a problem.”

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