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Bipartisan Bill Would Give Millions To Local Governments To Fight Homelessness

Rich Ibarra / Capital Public Radio
A homeless tent site on the American River Parkway.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is pushing a bill to award local governments $750 million a year for the next five years to combat homelessness.

The Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act, introduced last week by Sens. Feinstein and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), has bipartisan support.

More than 550,000 people are homeless in the United States today, and 25 percent of them are in California, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Feinstein says it’s a national crisis. Murkowski says her state is an unforgiving place for homelessness.

The bill would give millions to local governments, but also require a 25% match for supportive services such as mental health and housing.

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs admits local governments can’t do it on their own.

“You’ll see more, not just building, which people definitely need, but more services, more case managers, more drug treatment, more job training, more of those things people need oftentimes to bounce back from homelessness,” he said.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg says funding these services is the best way to help people reclaim their lives.

Steinberg has been appointed to lead the state’s new Commission on Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

Copyright 2019 Capital Public Radio