Mapping out comprehensive solutions to the housing crisis and homelessness in California

In his State of the State address, Gov. Gavin Newsom called homelessness “the most pernicious crisis in our midst, the ultimate manifestation of poverty, screaming for our attention.”

Mapping out comprehensive solutions to the housing crisis and homelessness in California
In his State of the State address, Gov. Gavin Newsom called homelessness “the most pernicious crisis in our midst, the ultimate manifestation of poverty, screaming for our attention.” Newsom called for a clear, long-term plan with a framework of solutions, echoing the Legislative Analyst’s Office. In his first two budgets, the governor has proposed significant investments in affordable housing and homelessness. Meanwhile, the Legislature has put forward hundreds of housing and homelessness bills, and advocacy groups like ours fight year after year for incremental changes. We’re all doing our best, but it hasn’t been enough. Housing is an essential human need and the bedrock of our communities. This is especially true now, with many counties ordering residents to avoid all unnecessary travel and “shelter in place” while Newsom calls for other Californians, such as those over the age of 65, to stay at home. Yet for hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable neighbors, this simply isn’t an option. Housing is so expensive that they don’t have enough left over to pay for other basic necessities or they are forced to move far from their communities and jobs. Worse yet, hard-working Californians end up falling through the cracks and landing on the streets. If we are going to undo this disaster decades in the making, we need a long-term, comprehensive framework of ambitious yet practical solutions at scale — now more than ever.  We can no longer settle for the fragmented approach that the political cycles force upon us. That is why our organizations, Housing California and the California Housing Partnership, are teaming up to map out the route to get there. Recently, we announced California’s Roadmap HOME 2030, an initiative to develop a “Marshall Plan” that will set the course to advance policy solutions that shift funds and create structural and systems reform at scale. The Roadmap HOME is essential to create a California with homes for all. To develop the Roadmap HOME over the next several months, we will draw on a diversity of experts from many sectors touched by affordable housing and homelessness. These sectors include producers and operators of affordable homes; homeless service providers and tenants’ rights advocates; experts in health, transportation and environmental policy; the state’s top academic researchers; government; philanthropy; labor; and impacted residents statewide. By taking input from a range of perspectives, we will jointly articulate the cumulative and future need for affordable homes, particularly for low-income Californians; set bold but achievable goals; and propose a comprehensive, evidence-based framework of policy solutions that will form the final Roadmap HOME. We’re also joined by the people of California, who are looking to their leaders for such a plan. Poll after poll shows Californians demand solutions to homelessness and the shortage of affordable homes, and we are thrilled that community members are making their voices heard. When we have finished the Roadmap this fall, to ensure it is on the agenda in Sacramento, we will organize even more voices from all corners of our state that include a diverse set of backgrounds and lived experiences. Working together, we will ensure that policymakers take the Roadmap HOME seriously and take action to forge a path forward that will result in real change for Californians struggling the most. To join this rich chorus of voices from across our state calling for a clear plan and proven solutions, readers can check out the website — roadmaphomeca.org  — and sign up for updates. Californians need help, not just ideas — and your voice will be instrumental in ensuring they get it. Lisa Hershey is executive director of Housing California, info@housingca.org. Matt Schwartz is president & CEO of California Housing Partnership, info@chpc.net.