A few days after Bay Area counties released their homeless point-in-time figures showing significant increases in their homeless populations, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced this week the formation of the Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force and its co-chairs Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Earlier this month, Newsom released his May budget revision which included $1 billion to fight California’s homeless crisis. The budget would increase emergency aid for local jurisdictions, make money available to cities and counties directly and fund permanent supportive housing or innovative approaches like motel and hotel conversions. “No Californian can say homelessness is someone else’s problem – it affects us all,” Newsom said. “Homelessness is a matter of statewide concern, but solutions will come from the local level. Mayors, county supervisors and city councils around the state are working hard to reduce homelessness and its underlying causes. We’ll be watching these local and regional solutions closely, to lend a hand and help them scale.” The Governor announced the new Task Force after touring a hotel conversion site in downtown Oakland that is now the Henry Robinson Multi-Service Center transitional housing facility. He was joined by Steinberg, Ridley-Thomas, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly. Newsom met with each of these individuals and underscored the importance of state-local partnerships to combat homelessness. “The growing problem of homelessness is nothing less than a humanitarian, public health, safety and economic crisis facing California,” Steinberg said. “I’m looking forward to working closely with Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and the administration of Gov. Newsom to develop comprehensive recommendations for how we can get thousands of people off the streets and into housing, and also help prevent thousands more from slipping into homelessness.” The Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force will meet a number of times throughout the year in cities and counties around the state to observe best practices firsthand and receive input from governments and constituents statewide to propose solutions to address the homelessness epidemic. The governor will announce additional members of the Task Force and future meeting dates and locations in the coming weeks. “I look forward to partnering with California Governor Gavin Newsom, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and other members of this Task Force to ensure that the State of California steps up its efforts in confronting the defining civic and moral crises of our time,” Ridley-Thomas said. “It is time for all levels of government to intensify our efforts, and take urgent and swift action to combat homelessness.” Newsom also named psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Tom Insel as a key advisor providing insight in developing strategies to address mental health issues. Dr. Insel is a nationally recognized leader in the science of mental health and evidence-based practices to assist people suffering from various conditions. Working with Secretary Ghaly, Dr. Insel will inform the state’s work as California builds the mental health system of tomorrow, serving people whether they are living in the community, on the streets or if they are in jails, schools or shelters.

In recognizing that homelessness is a matter of statewide concern most efficiently and effectively addressed at the local level through deep regional collaboration, the task force will consult with local and regional governments statewide to assess best practices and strategies to increase the production of so-called “Navigation Centers,” positive housing exits and information sharing to develop joint regional plans to address homelessness.