State Audit Finds California Spent $24 Billion to Tackle Homelessness Crisis but Didn’t Track the Outcomes

The Golden State spent $24 billion dollars over the course of five years to address their homeless problem. However, a recent audit revealed that the state did not effectively track the success of the programs, making it unclear if they were effective in reducing the homeless population at all.

Source: KQED

Homelessness has become an increasingly worrisome issue for the state of California. The warm weather attracts people to the area and in the past 5 years the numbers of tents lining the highways and streets has increased drastically.

Source: Truthout

With the increase in homeless population comes increase in crime, business disruptions, and wealthy people leaving the state; all of which are detrimental to the state’s economy.

Source: California Healthline

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were more than 181,000 homeless Californians last year, making up 28% of the entire nation’s homeless population. This is a 40% increase from only 5 years ago. In light of these concerning numbers, there has been a state-wide effort to eradicate the issue, led by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Source: NC 211

The state has spent billions of dollars on more than 30 programs which aim to reduce and eventually eliminate homelessness in the Golden State. However, a recent state audit found that there is not enough reliable data to determine if these programs were in fact successful due to improper tracking and analysis.

Source: Britannica

The State Auditor said in a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom, “This report concludes that the state must do more to assess the cost-effectiveness of its homelessness programs.” Of the 5 programs that the audit examined, they found only 2 were cost-effective, though $13.7 billion were funneled into them.

Source: TaxUni

In fact, the state auditor could not even effectively analyze 3 out of 5 of the programs due to lack of data. That means no one knows if the $9.4 billion that has been spent on the programs since 2020 are even useful.

Source: KTLA

An inability to draw conclusions around the effectiveness of the homelessness programs puts Governor Newsom in the hot seat once again. Both Democratic and Republican state senators have called for more effective tracking and transparency from Newsom.

Source: SJ Spotlight

Democratic state Senator Dave Cortese explained his frustrations with the “data desert” that they have been left in as San Jose homeless encampments continue to grow in numbers. Similarly, Republican state Senator Roger Niello stated, “These audit results are a wake-up call for a shift toward solutions that prioritize self-sufficiency and cost effectiveness”.

Source: TPD

The state of California continues to tackle homelessness with programs which aim to provide affordable housing, treatments for behavioral or health issues, and decrease the number of unhoused residents.