Spend Smarter: Jenny Rae’s Homelessness and Housing Plan

I am a businesswoman and problem solver running to free California from homelessness and insane housing costs. Millions of Californians have been priced out of the housing market and millions more can barely afford a home. In addition, California’s cities are overrun with homeless camps; 51% of America’s unsheltered homeless live in California.

Newsom proudly shares how much he spends on homelessness, yet the problem is getting worse – homelessness increased 17% in Newsom’s first year and another 7% in 2020. The average California home costs nearly $700,000

In the last decade, California’s population grew by 6% while housing grew by only 2%. Since Newsom took office, he has signed onerous building regulations and done nothing to streamline building permits. 

Here’s why Newsom’s billions in spending aren’t making a difference:

https://youtu.be/OkTQBQ80we8

I am running to free California to live, work, and breathe again by reducing homelessness and freeing builders to use private-sector solutions to create more than enough housing. 

My plan, “Spend Smarter,” refocuses problem-solving at the root causes. We must reduce the homeless population and lower the price of housing.

Spend Smarter Step 1: Tie Funding to Statewide Goals

I will create annual targets for the number of chronic homeless and the number of building permits issued – and tie future funding to the achievement of these goals. 

Funding will begin with measurement and will be based on progress; less restrictive funding ensures local organizations can use it to innovate and collaborate.

This goal-focused approach will enable us to see which localities are doing well so we can quickly share the lessons they have learned with the rest of the state. According to the February 2021 State Auditor’s report, this is currently not happening. 

My team will host regular meetings to review progress toward goals and share best practices.

Spend Smarter Step 2: Audit Existing Services and Shelters

We have 9 state agencies overseeing 41 programs to address homelessness. After conducting a 90-day audit, I will fill gaps and ensure the homeless are legally bound to use housing options provided to them rather than occupying public spaces.

A review of the state’s homeless efforts published in February 2021 concluded that “None of the five CoCs [communities] we reviewed has adequately determined whether it has enough service providers to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness.” Why are our leaders converting more motels into affordable housing and building new shelters when we don’t know if we have enough housing and services and we don’t know if our existing resources are effective?

For example, a private audit of emergency shelters in Los Angeles County found that they are only 78% full and only 58% met minimum quality standards. No one will use our shelters if they continue to be overrun with “bedbugs, rats, foul odors, poor lighting, and harassment.” 

While some shelter providers are heroes for providing amazing services with little funding, we must first improve and fill our existing services before investing in new programs. I will fill gaps and ensure Californians are legally bound to use the housing options provided to them rather than occupying public spaces.

Spend Smarter Step 3: Require Counties to Keep Updated Lists of the Homeless

I will require every county to gather the names, ages, and veteran/non-veteran status of the homeless for accurate data measurements. This approach has been used by the national initiative Built for Zero – which has helped 14 communities achieve “functional zero” of either chronic or veteran homeless.

The by-name list enables the local organizations and agencies serving the homeless to discuss specific plans to get each individual off the streets and updates them monthly on their progress. 

This individualized approach enables local service providers to match the unique needs of each person experiencing homelessness. 

I will ensure funding is focused on related coordinated care managed at the local level, with a specific focus on sufficient substance abuse and mental health support. 
Two California cities – Bakersfield and Fresno – have had success with this approach. We should expand successful solutions across the state.

Spend Smarter Step 4: Accelerate Building by Streamlining Regulations

Government-funded housing is not the answer. California has a shortage of over 1.4 million homes, and the average California home costs nearly $700,000. When running for office in 2017, Newsom promised to develop 3.5 million new housing units by 2025. Instead, housing permits declined by 16% in Newsom’s first 6 months in office.

The California Legislative Analyst Office reports that “facilitating more private housing development in the state’s coastal urban communities would help make housing more affordable for low-income Californians.” State housing officials say we need to build 180,000 new homes every year to catch up. 

This is a priority for my administration and it’s possible. California granted permits for an average of 200,000 new homes per year from 2003 to 2005.

I will streamline regulatory approvals and development impact fees and will incentivize localities to stop new local growth ordinances which increase house prices by up to 5% per ordinance. I will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and work on its reform.

Feedback on My Plan from Formerly Homeless Individuals

I think it’s important that our next Governor speaks with the people most affected by these issues. 

I recently got out of my office and into communities to discuss my homeless plan with several people who have lived on the streets. Here is what they said: