Waste, Fraud, & Mismanagement

State Spending on Homelessness Is “Disjointed,” Not Based on Effectiveness, Auditor Says

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California’s taxpayer-funded agencies are spending heavily to address homelessness, but have not followed a coordinated plan and do not base the spending on effectiveness, the state auditor reported February 11.

The report, issued while the Legislature is considering a proposed $2.4 billion-per-year tax increase on California employers and consumers to generate funds for homelessness programs (with no sunset date), stated:

“With more than 151,000 Californians who experienced homelessness in 2019, the State has the largest homeless population in the nation, but its approach to addressing homelessness is disjointed. At 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. Although the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council was created, in part, to coordinate existing funding and establish partnerships with stakeholders to develop strategies to end homelessness, it has not done so.”

As a result, the auditor said, the state “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.”

Some counties don’t prioritize projects that are likely to be the most effective, the auditor said. “Specifically, their policies and scoring tools favor projects that have received funding in the past over new projects, even if the new projects show significant potential,” the auditor explained.