Home » Gust Editorial: Without More Transparency, We Won’t See Real Accountability on Homelessness

Gust Editorial: Without More Transparency, We Won’t See Real Accountability on Homelessness

By Josh Hoover

by CC News
homeless and homelessness

Homelessness continues to be a main topic of discussion at each one of my community meetings. Our residents are rightfully concerned that California’s current approach to solving this crisis is falling woefully short. The numbers demonstrate that very clearly.

Today California is home to nearly half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless. Since 2018 our state has spent nearly $24 billion taxpayer dollars to solve its homelessness crisis, only to see its unhoused population rise by 32% during that same period of time. In Sacramento County alone, the homeless population has grown by 67% since 2019 and recently passed San Francisco.

That’s why one of the first actions I took as a newly elected member of the Assembly in 2023 was to request an audit of our state’s homelessness spending. I was thankful to be joined by a bipartisan coalition of legislators including Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), Senator Roger Niello (R-Fair Oaks), and Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley).

The premise was simple enough: if the billions we are spending to solve this crisis aren’t getting the desired results, what are we doing wrong and how can our investments be put to better use?

The results, however, were more troubling than I expected. Not only could the dollars be put to better use, in most cases we do not even have the necessary information to properly assess program effectiveness.

The State Auditor’s two-part report, which focused on 5 state level programs and 2 local governments, highlighted a number of eye opening findings:

  • Despite billions in spending, the homeless population in California has increased by 53% in the last 10 years
  • The state has failed to systemically track homelessness spending and is not adequately positioned to collect data and assess outcomes
  • Only two of the five state programs audited could provide enough information to assess their cost effectiveness
  • Neither San Jose or San Diego centrally tracks and reports its spending and outcomes
  • Neither city has properly evaluated the effectiveness of its homelessness programs
  • Both cities have sent millions in funding to outside service providers, but have not assessed whether these service providers are actually getting results

One solution the Auditor proposed is for the Legislature to mandate new reporting requirements telling state agencies to measure the costs and outcomes of state-funded homelessness programs. That seems like something that should have been happening all along to make sure policymakers have the ability to regularly assess program efficacy.

I introduced Assembly Bill 2093 to implement this change and I am happy to report that it passed the Assembly Housing Committee with unanimous bipartisan support.

Before we spend another dollar on homelessness, we need assurances that the dollars are being tracked. The inability to measure outcomes and performance will inevitably lead to wasted resources and broken promises.

Our communities deserve better. At a recent oversight hearing on homelessness, our lead agencies in California admitted that they have no idea where the money has gone or how many people it has helped. This is a complete failure of leadership and it’s time for the Legislature to demand more accountability.

Assemblyman Josh Hoover is a member of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee and represents the 7th Assembly District in Sacramento County, which includes the cities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, and Rancho Cordova and the unincorporated communities of Carmichael, Fair Oaks, Foothill Farms, Gold River, Mather, McClellan Park, North Highlands, Orangevale, and Rosemont. You can contact his office at [email protected].


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1 comment

Frank May 10, 2024 - 8:54 am

There is just too many organizations making a lot of money off the homeless. Governments have increased their payrolls and the NGO’s are making bank and the problem just keeps growing. All this is just like a parent giving everything to the child becoming an adult living in the basement. They never leave.

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