Audit reveals California hasn’t been tracking effectiveness of homeless despite billions spent

Approximately 171,000 people are homeless in California, which is roughly 30 percent of all of the homeless people in the US.

Governor Newson's California has spent more than $24 billion over five years to try and address the Golden State’s massive homelessness problem but did not track the results of the effectiveness of its efforts, according to a new report.

On Tuesday, a state audit was released on the effectiveness of California’s homeless and housing programs during the 2018-2023 fiscal years that revealed despite the billions spent, the problem only got worse.

Rep Kevin Kiley (R-CA) said, "In summary: California spent $24 billion on homelessness, no one bothered to ask if it was doing any good, and the problem got much worse."

According to KTVU, approximately 171,000 people are homeless in California, which is roughly 30 percent of all of the homeless people in the US. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that number is even higher with half of all “unsheltered” homeless people located in California.

State Senator Dave Cortese found that, in San Jose, insufficient data was collected at the city level and asked why that was in a letter to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. Assemblymembers Evan Low and Josh Hoover, as well as Senators Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh and Roger Niello co-signed the letter.

The report revealed that the California Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates homeless agencies and allocates resources for programs, hasn’t tracked spending and results since 2021, but still received funding from the state.

Two of the state’s major cities, San Jose and San Diego, were both revealed to have failed to track revenue and spending because of a lack of spending plans.

Additionally, the council did not develop a way to collect and evaluate data on the outcomes of the programs and has only reported on homelessness spending once since its creation in 2017.

According to the audit, the Council "has not established a consistent method for gathering information on homelessness programs’ costs and outcomes, leaving the state without information that would allow decision-makers to make data-driven decisions."

While tents continue to line streets and disrupt businesses across the state, the report noted that data on the number of people participating in homeless programs and the inventory of available beds in the state system isn’t accurate or reliable.

According to the report, until there is accountability "the state will continue to lack complete and timely information about the ongoing costs and associated outcomes of its homelessness programs."

Out of the more than 30 programs the state funds to address homelessness, the audit revealed after assessing five initiatives that only two of them are "likely cost-effective."

The other programs, which together received over $9.4 billion since 2020, could not be assessed due to a lack of data.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig said in reaction to the audit, "Homelessness has increased 51% in CA since Prop 47 passed and essentially decriminalized hard drugs like fentanyl and meth in 2014. Meanwhile, homelessness decreased 11% in the rest of the country combined."
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