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How Gov. Newsom's pause on $1B in homeless prevention funding hurts these counties

Gov. Newsom recently announced he's pausing the next stage of his California-wide homelessness assistance program until he sees better plans from local officials.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — The third round of California's Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) Grant funding worth $1 billion is being kept from cities, counties and continuums of care.

Gov. Newsom announced Nov. 3 he's holding the funds until he meets with local leaders in "mid-November" to come up with better strategies for addressing the ever-growing housing crisis.

“As a state, we are failing to meet the urgency of this moment. Collectively, these plans set a goal to reduce street homelessness 2% statewide by 2024," he said.

The first two rounds of HHAP Grant funding distributed to local jurisdictions since 2020 totaled about $950 million. Money from these grants goes directly to three entities:

1. Counties
2. Continuums of Care
3. The 13 largest cities in California

San Joaquin Continuum of Care board member Adam Cheshire said the majority of Continuums of Care are all-volunteer groups with the goal of getting together local stakeholders to find local solutions to homelessness. 

But without securing the third round of funding, some homelessness prevention projects and programs already running could hit a wall.

Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness Executive Director Bob Erlenbusch recently told ABC10 that Newsom’s decision to pause funding could be the difference between life or death for some unhoused residents.

"It's the wrong time of year to do this," Erlenbusch said.

According to the nonprofit Sacramento Steps Forward, which partners with Sacramento-area homeless services agencies, the expected funding from the third round of HHAP Grant funding included:

  • Sacramento Continuum of Care: $8.32 million
  • City of Sacramento: $16.68 million

ABC10 reached out to three neighboring counties—Placer, San Joaquin and Stanislaus to find out how much of their homelessness prevention programs relied on the HHAP Grants.

We also looked at how the counties would be affected if without the additional $1 billion in funding.

Placer County

In the case of Placer County, a spokesperson said the county will combine its future round three and round four HHAP Grants with the Placer County Continuum of Care to make more resources available.

The first two rounds of funding included:

  • HHAP Round One (2020 disbursement)
    • Placer County: $673,355.28
    • Continuum of Care: $726,829.24
  • HHAP Round Two (2021 disbursement)
    • County: $307,820.00
    • Continuum of Care: 343,909.00

For the third round of funding, county officials expect:

  • HHAP Round Three (2022 disbursement, paused)
    • County: $861,894.76
    • Continuum of Care: $923,458.67

"The funding delay will put on hold collaborative, community-led coordination to assist nonprofit providers serving our homeless population—for a variety of services ranging from operation of permanent housing to outreach," a spokesperson for Placer County Health and Human Services told ABC10.

San Joaquin County

In the first two rounds of HHAP Grant funding, both San Joaquin County and its Continuum of Care were allocated a total of $8,769,812.15 to fund projects serving people experiencing homelessness, according to a spokesperson.

The majority of funds went toward expanding the county's existing shelter system, which will be completed regardless of the $1 billion funding freeze.

"What Governor Newsom’s announcement will affect is our ability to keep moving forward," said San Joaquin Continuum of Care board member Adam Cheshire told ABC10.

"Effective, strategic regional deployment of these funds has been the result of a broadly inclusive process of consensus-building and collaboration between local stakeholders going back to the very first announcement of the HHAP program."

Cheshire also described the timing of Newsom's announcement as disappointing because of the progress being made in cities like Lodi, Manteca and Tracy.

"(It) seems counter-productive to his stated goals around addressing homelessness in local communities," Cheshire said.

Stanislaus County

A Stanislaus County spokesperson said the region receives two funding allocations from the HHAP Grant.

One allocation goes toward the county's social services department, the Community Services Agency, and a second allocation is governed by the Stanislaus Community System of Care.

The Community System of Care guides and tracks homeless individuals and families through a comprehensive array of housing and services designed to prevent and end homelessness, according to a county spokesperson.

In the first two rounds of HHAP Grant funding, the region received:

  • HHAP Round One (2020 disbursement)
    • Stanislaus County: $2,098,642
    • Community System of Care: $2,265,304
  • HHAP Round Two (2021 disbursement)
    • Stanislaus County: $959,379
    • Community System of Care: $1,071,860

For the third round of funding, county officials expect:

  • HHAP Round Three (2022 disbursement, paused)
    • Stanislaus County: $2,686,262
    • Community System of Care: $2,878,137

WATCH MORE: Opening day for Modesto's new shelter brings hope, second chances to homeless

The Stanislaus County Community Services Agency funding has been focused on launching and sustaining the Access Center Emergency Shelter at the Salvation Army Berberian Shelter in Modesto.

But without ongoing funding, a county spokesperson told ABC10 the program overseeing the facility sheltering up to 182 people will close.

Housing Assessment Teams charged with offering supportive services in Stanislaus County will also cease without ongoing state funding.

Community System of Care efforts in the county would focus on permanent housing solutions, youth services and more.

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