LA Mayor Karen Bass to lobby Newsom, legislators for more homeless funding

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass was in Sacramento Wednesday to join the California Big City Mayors for meetings with Gov. Gavin Newsom and key legislators to seek more homeless funding.

The California Big City Mayors, a coalition of mayors of the state's 13 most populous cities, issued a letter to Newsom and state legislators Thursday, one day before he released a revised budget proposal for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

In the letter, the coalition stated the homeless crisis continues to be its No. 1 priority, and that the need to address homelessness should be reflected through the state's budget.

"For this reason, we respectfully request -- as our top budget priority -- continuing and sustaining HHAP (Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention) funding with direct allocations for big cities, with a minimum allocation of $2 billion per year in FY 23-24, 24-25 and 25-26 for a total of $6 billion," the letter read.

As Newsom's administration and legislators develop policy to address homelessness, the coalition proposed the following framework to aid in that effort, including flexibility in the use of state funding; permanent funding; focused goals; release HHAP bonus funding; prioritize increased bed capacity; quicker disbursement of funding; land use waivers; stabilize annual allocations; and lastly, focus funding where need is greatest.

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In addition, the coalition requested $1.5 billion for Homekey to ensure all applications in round three are funded.

Newsom released his "May Revise" Friday in which he announced a $32 million deficit in the state's proposed budget for 2023-24 fiscal year. His announcement came to many as a surprise as he previously projected a $22.5 billion shortfall in his proposed January budget.

Newsom indicated spending reductions and pullbacks would be necessary to ensure a balanced budget. In terms of funding for homeless projects and cleaning up encampments, he said "we are not backing away" and his proposed budget would commit $15.3 billion to do so.

Of that $15.3 billion, Newsom committed $3 billion for flexible aid to local government; $3 billion for Homekey; $2.2 billion for behavior health infrastructure; $1.5 billion for behavioral health bridge housing; $860 million for community care expansion; $750 million for encampment clean up grants; and $262 million for Project Roomkey.

Bass is expected to meet with state legislators throughout the day and discuss funding and ongoing efforts to address homelessness, among other priorities.

The trip is Bass' first since May 4 when she flew to Chicago to appear at the 22nd annual "Ultimate Women's Power Lunch," a major Democratic fundraiser in Illinois hosted by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, where she gave advice to Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson.

Bass is scheduled to return to Los Angeles Wednesday evening, according to a spokeswoman.