Eye on Ending Homelessness
Gov. Gray Davis Launches a New Initiative for California
California is moving toward an end to homelessness, a priority among all state programs.
A statewide Summit on Homelessness, convened by Gov. Gray Davis in April, was attended by government and law enforcement officials, homeless assistance advocates, housing providers, consumers and business leaders. Also in April, Gov. Davis signed legislation to put a $2.1 billion housing bond on the ballot in November. If approved by voters, this measure will include $900 million for multifamily housing and almost $400 million for emergency shelters and supportive housing for people at risk of homelessness.
The summit focused on improving coordination among local, state and federal programs; optimizing funding to reduce and prevent homelessness; measuring success in combating homelessness; addressing policy and constitutional issues; and overcoming barriers to temporary and affordable housing.
On July 1, the State Task Force on Homelessness is expected to submit a report to Gov. Davis, who has announced several initiatives, including grants for local governments to develop their own integrated homeless service models and increased opportunities for communities to receive technical assistance and advice from state and local officials experienced in building successful programs.
Relationship to HIV/AIDS
The relationship of HIV/AIDS and homelessness is a major concern for housing providers, as well as for advocates and policy makers around the nation.
In many cases, HIV/AIDS is both a cause and a result of homelessness. It is believed that HIV infection in homeless communities varies from 3 percent to 19.5 percent with a significantly higher rate of infection in subgroups such as minorities, intravenous drug users, women and youth.
According to estimates, one-third to one-half of people living with HIV/AIDS are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. An alarming 50 percent of individuals with HIV/AIDS are expected to need housing assistance during the course of their illness. And it has been reported that few homeless individuals know their HIV status and even fewer are informed about treatment options.
A new report commissioned by Gov. Gray Davis evaluates the course of the governor's initiative to address homelessness. This report includes statistics on homelessness, descriptions of currently available programs and services for homeless people, issues and questions for consideration, best practices, and recommended actions for preventing and reducing homelessness statewide.
According to the report, there are approximately 75 state-funded programs in California that provide services to the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless. The homeless people who are most difficult to treat are those with addictions such as drugs and/or alcohol or the ones who suffer from severe mental illness.
The most recent data on homelessness in California comes from the 1999 Statewide Housing Plan, prepared by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
HCD estimates that on any given day there are 361,000 people homeless in California, or about 1.1 percent of the state's total population. The report recommendations are: make preventing and reducing homelessness a state priority, incorporate outreach into homeless assistance programs, integrate services, establish long-term goals and plans, and expand permanent housing to special needs populations.
For information on statistics on HIV/AIDS and homelessness, see www.endhomelessness.org/back/AIDS.htm.
For a Microsoft Word document on the California report on homelessness, click here.
This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.