The Bay Area could end its roaming problem with an investment of $ 11.8 billion, according to a report released Thursday by the Bay Area Council, a business advocacy group.
The report calls for one-time investments totaling $ 9.3 billion and $ 2.5 billion in annual investments.
The report’s authors say the money could come from local, regional and state sources, including a voter-approved measure that raises $ 10 billion.
Reflective statistics on homelessness in the region show that 73 percent of the homeless population is unprotected, the highest rate in the country.
In addition, the increase in homelessness in the region has accounted for 30% of the total increase in homelessness in the country since 2017.
Since 2010, the Bay Area’s homeless population has grown four times faster than the region’s population.
“They (the homeless) are our neighbors,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, vice president of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, who wrote the report.
Earlier this week, Schaaf and two members of Oakland City Council announced legislation aimed at providing opportunities for the private market to provide Oakland with lower-cost housing such as mobile homes and manufactured homes.
The legislation also gives people the ability to live in tiny homes and RVs without fear of having to leave those homes at some point.
“They (the homeless) deserve better,” and we need to do better, said Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California, who supported the report.
Increased state funding is key to meeting some of the report’s goals, and state lawmakers face a June 15 deadline to approve a new state budget. Researchers at the institute, including economist Adrian Covert, who presented the report’s findings in a webinar Thursday morning, suggest taking an approach that has never been tried before in the United States.
This approach goes beyond a mandate to provide shelter to people, which Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed at one point.
Warrants have been effective in New York and elsewhere in getting people off the streets, but people have languished in shelters for years.
Instead, the institute team recommended a blended approach that includes increasing the number of temporary or emergency shelters, expanding services such as rent assistance so people can staying at home and building housing lots for income-earning residents.
Researchers at the institute also recommend investing in mental health and addiction programs, which they say is essential.
“We have the opportunity to improve on what has been done before,” said Covert.
The report recommends passing the $ 10 billion voting measure and passing legislation to make it easier to build new housing, especially rental housing.
It also recommends declaring a shelter crisis in cities where 10 percent of the homeless are not sheltered. This would trigger the swift approval of new shelters.
Finally, he recommends more federal money to fully fund the Section 8 program.
“I think it’s time to take it with the seriousness it (the homeless) deserves,” Markovich said.