SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh joined mayors from across the state in Sacramento this morning with a message for state leaders to stay the course, and maintain funding for critical homeless programs. Goh was one of 10 mayors who spoke this morning.
Among the others : mayors of San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland, San Diego, and Fresno.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln joined fellow big-city mayors from across California to find solutions to the homelessness crisis.
During their meeting, the mayors called on state leaders to continue funding specific programs to help the unhoused population.
“People cannot be living on the streets in this way,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg was one of nine mayors from some of the state’s biggest cities including San Diego, Fresno, and Stockton to address the issue together.
They are concerned that state funding through the Homeless Housing Assistance and Prevention program, also known as HHAP, is set to run out at the end of June when the state’s fiscal year also ends.
Over the years, the program has provided cities, including Sacramento with money to create permanent affordable housing and more than 1,000 shelter beds.
Mayor Goh said Bakersfield’s shelter capacity has doubled thanks to HHAP funding over the years and says HHAP funded shelters are bringing hope to the hopeless.
“We as a group are committed to comprehensive solutions that address the root issues of trauma. That address mental health and substance use treatment, supportive housing as well as the prevention of inflow into homelessness,” Mayor Goh said. “But to do so, our cities need the state’s support. We need your ongoing shared commitment through direct, flexible, ongoing HHAP funding.”
The mayors met with the governor at the State Capitol and delivered a letter to him, urging him not to let the funding expire.
“Here is the challenge that we face: If this funding is cut off, we hit what one would call a fiscal cliff,” Steinberg said.
It’s a fiscal challenge that Steinberg and his mayoral colleagues said would be averted if the governor agrees to fund the HHAP program with an additional $1 billion per year over the next three fiscal years.
“Cities do not have the funding on the health and human services side to do this work, and so HHAP is crucial for us not only to maintain what we have started but to enhance it,” Steinberg said.
“It’s an opportunity for us to continue to meet the moment moving forward so that we can provide the services and produce the outcomes that will mitigate homelessness throughout our communities,” Lincoln said.
He and the other eight mayors in attendance argued it is the best possible time for California leaders to grant their request given the state’s record multi-billion dollar surplus.
“The question I ask with the budget surplus we have in California: If not now, then when?,” said Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer.
It’s a question the mayors intend to take right to the governor.
FOX40 reached out to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s press office about whether he intends to support the budget request, but we did not hear back as of Monday afternoon.