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County’s homelessness efforts impress new governor
San Bernardino County officials and their community partners impressed California’s new governor this week with the various strategies being employed to combat homelessness in America’s largest county.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was so inspired by the “big ideas” at work in San Bernardino County that he will work with the state Legislature to set aside funding in the state’s upcoming 2019-2020 budget to enhance support for the county’s efforts.
“This seems to me to be an extraordinary opportunity,” Gov. Newsom said. “I have the privilege of this moment to convince my legislative colleagues that this is a wise investment.”
“I am going back home re-energized,” he continued. “I want to look to redirect some of that money in a much more robust way. … That’s missing from my budget, but it doesn’t have to be on May 1. We can figure out ways to bolster that effort.”
San Bernardino County’s innovative approaches to address homelessness – which have received accolades at the state and national levels – focus on collaboration, creation of available dwelling units, whole-person healthcare, jobs, and technology. Efforts are coordinated by the county’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, which is chaired by Fifth District Supervisor Josie Gonzales and includes representatives from many cities within the county, and a variety of county departments, non-profit organizations, and other service providers.
During the meeting with Gov. Newsom on April 16, 2019, at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center McKee Family Health Center in San Bernardino, county and private sector partners outlined some of the county’s approaches toward ending homelessness, including:
- Managed healthcare to ensure newly-housed people achieve and maintain physical and behavioral wellness to help prevent them from reverting to homelessness and relying on more costly emergency room care for their basic needs.
- The conversion of hotels and motels to provide homes for the homeless. The Housing Authority of San Bernardino County and its private sector partners are in the process of converting motels in San Bernardino and Victorville into housing for homeless people. Tod Lipka, president and CEO of Step Up said there are 75 hotels and motels in the region that could be converted into housing if the state could provide funding for rent vouchers.
“There are wonderful things happening at the local level,” Gov. Newsom said. “We’ll have your back and we’ll be providing an unprecedented amount of resources, and we’re here for the long haul.”