Amid Alarming Audit Findings, Legislators Introduce Bipartisan Measure to Increase Oversight of State Homeless Funding

Legislation Follows Highly Critical Report by the California State Auditor; Would Require Providers to Report Key Data and Metrics as a Condition of Receiving State Funding

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Introduction Follows Veto Last Year by Governor Newsom of Similar Legislation that Passed the Legislature with Unanimous Bipartisan Support

SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), along with seven bipartisan co-authors, introduced legislation that would provide stronger oversight, transparency, and accountability for state homelessness funding. Most significantly, Assembly Bill (AB) 977 would mandate that recipients of state homelessness funding report key data and metrics through the state’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), thereby allowing policymakers to better track and evaluate the effectiveness of various programs around the state.

“There is immense frustration in the Legislature and around the state with the lack of progress on homelessness,” said Assemblymember Gabriel. “No matter how well-intentioned, we can’t keep writing blank checks and hoping for the best. We need stronger oversight to hold local programs accountable and ensure that public resources are being spent in the most efficient and effective manner possible. As our State Auditor rightly notes, we need more accountability, transparency, and data-driven policymaking, especially when it comes to meeting the biggest challenges facing our state or helping the most vulnerable among us.”

AB 977 follows the release last week of a highly-critical report by State Auditor Elaine M. Howle, which called the State’s approach to homelessness as “uncoordinated” and “disjointed” and highlighted that California “continues to lack a comprehensive understanding of its spending to address homelessness, the specific services the programs provide, or the individuals who receive those services.” Notably, the Audit specifically recommends the approach taken by AB 977, which it argues will “ensure that the State has access to comprehensive data about homelessness,” and provide desperately-needed insight into various homelessness programs and strategies, thereby enabling policymakers to craft better solutions to this worsening crisis.

Among other findings, the Audit notes that despite spending $13 billion over the past three years, California continues to have the largest homeless population in the nation, with over 151,000 Californians experiencing homelessness in 2019.  Moreover, “[a]t least nine state agencies administer and oversee 41 different programs that provide funding to mitigate homelessness, yet no single entity oversees the State’s efforts or is responsible for developing a statewide strategic plan.” 

The introduction of AB 977 follows Governor Newsom’s veto last year of AB 2746 (Gabriel), a similar measure that passed both houses of the Legislature with unanimous bipartisan support.

AB 977 is expected to be heard in committee in the coming weeks.