Making It in the Bay

Bay Area Cities Join Forces to Tackle Homeless Crisis

NBC Universal, Inc.

The mayors of San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland and other major California cities joined forces Thursday to ask the state to tackle the homeless crisis.

“We stand together today to say we need to treat homelessness like the crisis that it is,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Liccardo was one of more than a dozen big city mayors in California who came together Thursday with a very bold proposition.

That’s to give California’s biggest cities $5 billion a year for the next five years and those cities will permanently house the majority of all the homeless in their cities.

“We call for flexibility of dollars to prevent homelessness to triple down on successful initiatives such as Governor (Gavin) Newsom’s project home key get more of our unhoused neighbors off the street provide operating dollars necessary to sustain successful models of emergency transitional permanent housing,” he added.

The group of big city mayors, which includes San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland say the money could come from the state surplus.

That would be paired with federal funds to buy and create enough housing for more than 100,000 people experiencing homelessness.

The mayors said the key is that the cities are working together.

“The reality is that not one city can do this alone not one city can address this problem because it’s clearly a statewide crisis,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “The state of California has made an amazing impact in our cities in bending the curve to start to address this moral outrage that is homeless.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf explained that the five-year commitment is important. “We’re not asking for a new program we all know what the proven strategies are our issue is scaling them,” she said. “This is not a new state program it is investing in evidence-based strategies to prevent and end homelessness.”

Jennifer Freidenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homeless told NBC Bay Area that she sees a real opportunity in the Bay Area mayors’ bold request.

“We really are at this important intersection right now where we could seriously move the dial on homelessness if we take the right steps to do it,” she said.

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