Marsha McLean | What’s Going on With Homelessness

Marsha McLean

The community deserves to know what is going on at the state level regarding homelessness. I am a member of the Los Angeles County Division of the board of directors of Cal Cities (formerly the League of California Cities).  I received the below information talking about the state budget and homelessness, and wanted to share the information. 

For further information, please go to: 

“SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE CALIFORNIA BUDGET DEAL: The agreement provides $1 billion for local governments to address homelessness via the state’s Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention grant program. That’s a third of what the League of California Cities was seeking, and it’s not the permanent funding stream that local governments say they need.

“California is one of the largest economies in the world, yet home to the highest rate of homelessness in the country. So, it defies logic that the budget once again fails to include ongoing funding to match the scale of this emergency,” said Cal Cities Executive Director Carolyn Coleman. 

The California State Association of Counties offered a similar response:

“All levels of government simply cannot address this complex issue without ongoing funding to plan and support an effective system,” the CSAC stated. “No state, county or city model on any issue of priority to all Californians is successful without the state first developing a comprehensive system with clearly defined roles and responsibilities and funding it appropriately.”

The failure to provide ongoing homelessness funding makes California cities some of the biggest losers in this budget plan, as the Sacramento Bee’s editorial board explained:

“Addressing the many facets of homelessness — shelter, transitional housing, permanent housing, mental health care and drug rehabilitation — has the same established need for funding as education, prisons or parks,” the editorial board wrote. “Yet homelessness has no similarly established home in the state budget. It has to fight for the leftovers. Big-city mayors end up fending for themselves and heading home with far less than they need.”

These are my words:  

Measure H was supposed to solve the homelessness crisis. Most cities are donor cities (Santa Clarita is one of those cities), meaning taxpayers pay in millions of dollars more than is returned to them to provide programs that could help decrease homelessness. 

At the last board of directors meeting of the Los Angeles County Division of Cal Cities (formerly League of California Cities), information was shared that L.A. County wants a proposition on the 2024 ballot that would raise the tax from a quarter-cent to a half-cent, with no sunset — or possibly consider a parcel tax paid through property taxes — which would replace the current Measure H, which does have a sunset.  

Has the homelessness issue been helped at all by Measure H? In fact, homelessness in California has increased. We all know that compassion exists for those facing homelessness and taxpayers have been willing to pay increased taxes to solve the problem. Will they do it again even though the money goes into a deep hole and homelessness continues to increase? 

Common sense should say NO! Not until it is proven the dollars paid into Measure H are actually being spent where it will do the most good. Local governments have the knowledge to solve the problem; and if the millions of dollars that are paid into Measure H were returned to our and other cities, homelessness would actually decrease instead of increase. 

The city of Santa Clarita, at the request of Mayor Pro Tem Cameron Smyth, has formed a city subcommittee on homelessness. I am pleased to serve with him on the committee. We have formed the Community Task Force on Homelessness, made up of 30 nonprofit organizations. 

Mayor Pro Tem Smyth is the chair and presides over our meetings. There are goals that have been set and subcommittees to make sure the goals are met. I previously served as the chair of the Prevention and Coordination Subcommittee – whose members were successful in creating a resource guide, which is available online: 

Currently, I am the chair of the Advocacy and Coordination of Resources Subcommittee. This committee and its members are charged with educating the community, bringing awareness to the task force on impending legislation and doing our best to be pro-active in bringing back our tax dollars that are paid into Measure H, and advocating for necessary funding from the state as mentioned in the above newsletter from Cal Cities. 

I am writing this article representing myself and not on behalf of Cal Cities, the City Council or the Community Task Force.

Marsha McLean is a Newhall resident and a member of the Santa Clarita City Council.

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