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California Lost Track of $24 Billion In Taxpayer Funds To Address States Homeless Crisis, State Auditor Says

The California State Auditor’s office found a number of “gaps” in data collection and evaluation for allocating approximately $24 billion in taxpayer money during the 2018-2023 fiscal years. 

California’s handling of its homeless population has sparked criticism from lawmakers and public figures after an audit found Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration lost track of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds designated to tackle the crisis.

Lead auditor Grant Parks said the state “has not collected sufficient data” to backup the homelessness situation in the Golden State has improved and that the California Interagency Council on Homelessness (Cal ICH) has “not consistently tracked and evaluated the State’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness,” since 2021.

“Cal ICH has also not aligned its action plan to end homelessness with its statutory goals to collect financial information and ensure accountability and results,” the report states. “Thus, it lacks assurance that the actions it takes will effectively enable it to achieve those goals.”

Although it remains unclear if the money actually made an impact for aiding the state’s homeless population, The Los Angeles Times reported the demographic grew by roughly 6% in 2023 from the previous year to more than 180,000 people, according to federal “point in time” data. 

In the last decade, California homelessness as grown by 53%.

Parks, who was appointed by Newsom in 2022, concluded in the report the state “must do more

to assess the cost-effectiveness of its homelessness programs.” 

However, the findings have only sparked Newsom’s administration to face more criticism for lacking accountability and transparency.

“This is standard Gavin Newsom – make a splashy announcement, waste a bunch of taxpayer money, and completely fail to deliver,” California Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher told Fox News. “Californians are tired of the homeless crisis, and they’re even more tired of Gavin’s excuses. We need results – period, full stop.”

Democrat State Sen. Dave Cortese of Santa Clara County, who requested the audit after touring a San Jose homeless encampment in 2023, said the report “highlights the need for improved data and greater transparency at both the state and local levels.”

He added that “there is a balkanized approach to data collection and outcomes, with no centralized system for tracking our investments.”

“This audit underscores the urgent need to establish best practices and create a blueprint for how the State of California and our cities can address our most visible challenge.”

U.S. Senate candidate Steve Garvey, the former MLB All-Star running as a Republican against Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, said California needs “real political courage to make necessary changes.” 

“Since day one, I’ve advocated for a federal audit of California’s homelessness crisis,” he said. “I’m glad that the state has done this, but now we need real political courage to make necessary changes. Our unhoused people and our taxpayers deserve real results, not more failed policies.”

The audit comes just weeks after California voters approved Proposition 1, which would allocate another $6.4 billion to tackle homelessness by focusing on substance abuse through the state’s mental health system.

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